Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences Thu, 14 Nov 2019 23:32:15 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 Remainers need Simple Messages and Charismatic Leaders https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2019/remainers-need-simple-messages-and-charismatic-leaders/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2019/remainers-need-simple-messages-and-charismatic-leaders/#respond Thu, 14 Nov 2019 15:32:38 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=15909 It’s somewhat astonishing that, in the second week of the UK general election campaign, the Conservatives are polling at an average of 39%, according to the Press Association’s rolling average of voter intentions (highlighted by the Evening Standard’s Rebecca Speare-Coles) – see below. True, Labour are creeping up, now on 29%. But, in what has been a calamitous 10 days for the Tories – from Jacob Rees Mogg’s highly-insensitive comments implying a lack of common sense amongst those who perished in 2017’s Grenfell Tower disaster to Boris Johnson’s hostile reception from South Yorkshire flood victims – Labour should be doing much better. But what about the poor old Liberal Democrats? When the latest (9 November) NatCen Poll of Polls – see below – puts Remain on 53% to Leave’s 47%, how come the Lib Dems have slumped from 21% to just 16%? Given that they are unequivocally Remain and would like to revoke Article 50 without even the formality of a second EU referendum, it is also somewhat astonishing that their voter intentions have slipped so much. Potentially disastrously so! While there are multiple factors accounting for these poll results – and the polls, as has been shown in both the... Read More

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It’s somewhat astonishing that, in the second week of the UK general election campaign, the Conservatives are polling at an average of 39%, according to the Press Association’s rolling average of voter intentions (highlighted by the Evening Standard’s Rebecca Speare-Coles) – see below. True, Labour are creeping up, now on 29%. But, in what has been a calamitous 10 days for the Tories – from Jacob Rees Mogg’s highly-insensitive comments implying a lack of common sense amongst those who perished in 2017’s Grenfell Tower disaster to Boris Johnson’s hostile reception from South Yorkshire flood victims – Labour should be doing much better.

Graphic copyright © 2019 Press Association

But what about the poor old Liberal Democrats? When the latest (9 November) NatCen Poll of Polls – see below – puts Remain on 53% to Leave’s 47%, how come the Lib Dems have slumped from 21% to just 16%? Given that they are unequivocally Remain and would like to revoke Article 50 without even the formality of a second EU referendum, it is also somewhat astonishing that their voter intentions have slipped so much. Potentially disastrously so!

Graphic copyright © 2019 NatCen Social Research

While there are multiple factors accounting for these poll results – and the polls, as has been shown in both the 2016 referendum and the 2017 general election, have got it wrong in recent years – clearly neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats are succeeding in getting their message across. And the Conservatives are.

A short history of simple and blunt messaging
Elections are memetic wars. The war is about who can get their memes (ideas) across to voters so that the political party’s message influences the voter’s schemas so much that the voter votes in the way the party wants.

To understand at least partially why the Conservatives are getting their message across and Labour and the Lib Dems aren’t, it’s instructional to revisit the content and manner of message delivery during the 2016 referendum.

The Remainers by and large fought on sound political and economic grounds – George Osborne’s hysterical need for a new budget the day after a vote to leave excepted! Brexit makes no conventional economic sense. Every reported Treasury forecast – eg: BBC News (2018g) – has predicted the UK will be worse off, with a no-deal Brexit predicted to take over 9% off the economy. (As discussed in How the Bureaucrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…, Brexit does make sense if you are a large corporation wanting relief from profit-reducing regulations or a billionaire wanting to hide your money from the tax authorities.)

The Remainers hustled experts onto TV and radio in a bid to demonstrate just how economically damaging Brexit would be – only for Michael Gove to trip them up with a simple message, telling Sky News (2016): “people in this country have had enough of experts”.

Gove’s simplistic speaking authoritatively on behalf of ‘the people’, without any evidence to back up his claim, has come to typify the way politicians, particularly, on the right wing, talk about difficult issues. Watch Boris Johnson on the campaign trail: whenever he gets a troubling question, he flusters, looks to one side and then comes back to the questioner with something like: “Look, what the British people really want is…” (Donald Trump behaves similarly in the US.)

In contrast to the Remainers in 2016, the Leavers kept their arguments simple and emotive – eg: the bus with the message: “We send the EU £50 million per day. Let’s fund our NHS instead.”

The Brexit bus during the referendum campaign – copyright © Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Such messages didn’t have to be factually accurate – indeed, many of them, like the bus one, weren’t. What they were highly effective in doing was to create an emotional response.

Elaboration Likelihood Model – graphic copyright © 2007 Elsevier BV

Richard Petty & John Cacioppo’s (1981) Elaboration Likelihood Model – see above – helps to explain why this approach is more successful with some people – those Susan Fiske & Shelley Taylor (1991) term cognitive misers. In Gravesian terms, these people will tend to be dominated by the PURPLE and RED vMEMES in their vMEME stacks. Literacy is not a strong point in PURPLE motivations while RED wants to get to the point now and has little patience for complex arguments. Thus, simplistic appeals on the peripheral route are much likely to be effective with such people.

BLUE and the more complex vMEMES tend to prefer the central route and consider the issues, pros and cons, at length and in detail. The Remainers’ financial and economic experts largely spoke to this group.

Unfortunately this divide in messaging is still in play today. The Remainers argue amongst themselves in public as to whether there should be a second referendum before revoking Article 50. Even worse, Labour’s position – negotiate a new deal and then have a referendum in which we may or may not support the new deal – is largely incomprehensible to cognitive misers.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson says simply: “Let’s get Brexit done!”

The role of fear
A number of researchers have found that fear is a key component in effective messaging. Especially important is the work of Ronald Rogers (1983). He found that:-

  • The threat in the fear appeal must be serious
  • The receivers of the appeal must believe the threat could affect them
  • The message must offer the receivers a solution to the threat
  • The receivers must think they can apply that solution

Nigel Farage launches the ‘Breaking Point’ poster

This is exactly what Nigel Farage did in 2016 with his infamous poster. Immigration had already become a major issue in the campaign – with racism and resentment and fear of immigrants and cultural change being exploited by the official Vote Leave campaign. Farage’s poster arguably made fear of Syrian (and other) immigrants being facilitated entry into the UK by the EU the defining factor in the Leave victory. As it was, the margin of victory was only just over 4%. Leave might not have had a victory at all without the effective messaging over immigration.

Leaving the EU was, of course, offered as the solution; and voters could implement this solution by voting to leave.

So far, while fear appeals are being used by both sides in the 2019 election, Remainer appeals are relatively restrained – and correspondingly ineffective? Whereas Boris Johnson exaggerates in highly emotive language the fear factor of the Conservatives not winning: “Imagine waking up on Friday 13th December and finding Corbyn at the head of his technicolour yawn of a coalition.” He talks of a a Jeremy Corbyn government being a “horror show” and of more years of “dither and delay” (As reported by The Sun’s Matt Dathan & Jonathan Reilly.)

Cleverly, Johnson has so far ignored the Lib Dems, thus giving out the implicit message that they are not serious contenders and thus are irrelevant.

If Remainers want to win, they need not only to simplify messages that appeal to voters’ values, they also need to use fear much more effectively – eg:-

  • Boris is a proven liar – he can’t be trusted
  • Boris will sell the NHS off to American drugs companies and the prices of medicines will rise phenomenally
  • Boris will allow the Americans to sell us salmonella-infected foods
  • Boris will rip up workers rights after Brexit, meaning lower wages and poor health & safety

Such messages are circulating in complex peripheral route formats. These need to be turned into simple slogans – soundbites, if you will – that aren’t up for debate but are treated as inescapable fact.

The role of the messenger
Petty & Cacioppo lay great store on the charismatic nature of the person who delivers messages on the peripheral route. They must be someone admired and trusted. So it’s worthwhile briefly considering the public personalities of the 3 main leaders.

  • Johnson undoubtedly is charismatic – a brutal and verbally violent force of nature. He portrays himself as the man who can “get Brexit done” – a kind of Brexit superhero. That goes down well with Leave voters and others who are just fed up with 3.5 years of Brexit arguments and indecisive MPS in Parliament.
    However, as shown by his gaffes as mayor of London and his brief and highly embarrassing tenure as foreign secretary, he is impulsive, ruthless and compulsive – all characteristics of the temperamental dimension of Psychoticism. (His lurid love life would indicate he also has a high sex drive, another characteristic of Psychcoticism.) This facilitates RED being strong in his psychological make-up and the corresponding tendency to ‘live in the moment’ makes him vulnerable to being caught out on the hop with difficult questions. So far interviewers have given him a relatively easy ride. It would be interesting to see how he cope if someone forced their way through his “Look what the British people really want…” bluster with a probing enquiry like “How do you know that…?”
  • Corbyn appears to be very much the opposite of Johnson: a cautious man given to weighing up the pros and cons. He is, in spite of all his dithering over Bexit, still loved by his many followers – though they are dwindling according to some reports (eg: Kevin Schofield of PoliticsHome). While he showed himself to be a formidable on-the-stump campaigner during the 2017 campaign, there have yet to be this time around any of the spellbinding rally performances at which he so excelled 2 years ago.
    He has also failed to counter effectively the right wing media portrayals of him as an out-and-out Marxist or a terrorist sympathiser. How corrosive such portrayals can be was illustrated yesterday in Glasgow when a Church of Scotland minister heckled him as a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ – as reported by Andrew Woodcock in The Independent.
    Some Corbynistas may complain that he doesn’t have a chance up against the power of the right wing media who are clearly prepared to print the most scurrilous allegations without credible evidence. But that’s not the point. If Corbyn can’t create and project an image that can withstand such muck-throwing, he’s not going to be able to sell himself as a prime minister in waiting.
  • Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, despite her proclamations that she could be prime minister on 13 December, is failing to sell herself  even more. As she herself has said, Lib Dems are the natural home for Remainers…so, with 54% of the electorate projected to be Remainers, Swinson becoming prime minister should be feasible. Yet Lib Dem voter intentions are slipping.
    Partly it will be due to messages being too complex…but in part it may be due Swinson’s own image and style. She appears to be impulsive and compulsive (the sudden appearance of Revoke Article 50 as a policy with apparently little or no consultation of the party). She has shown a real streak of ruthlessness in immediately initiating disciplinary proceedings against Canterbury candidate Tim Walker for standing down to help Remainer Labour MP Rosie Duffield keep her seat – as reported by The Guardian’s Helen Pidd & Peter Walker. (Considering whether Swinson might be Psychoticist in temperament would be aided by knowing whether she has a high sex drive!)
    She comes across in interviews as rigid and strident and hardly has the gravitas of, say. Corbyn at his best. Nothing demonstrates Swinson’s compulsive rigidity more than her refusal to consider an electoral pact with Corbyn’s Labour, despite many in the party seeming to see that as the only way to get Johnson out of Downing Street.

…and 13 December
Who will be prime minster?

On current polling and behaviours, it looks like either Johnson will retain his premiership by a small but workable majority or there will be a hung Parliament again.

If the former is the case, then it looks like the UK is in for a hard-right government and most likely a hard Brexit.

If the latter, then a Labour government with Lib Dem support or a Labour/Lib Dem coalition of some kind has to be the way to restore moderate government to the UK. If Labour fail to secure a majority, then Corbyn’s days as leader will most likely be numbered and a pro-EU frontbencher like Kier Starmer elected to replace him. A Starmer-Swinson alliance could give Johnson considerable trouble in executing his post-Brexit plans. The pity is that such an alliance couldn’t be put in place before 12 December.

With just 4 weeks to go, the Remainers still have plenty to play for – as outgoing EU Council president Donald Tusk said today:  “Don’t give up” on stopping Brexit (Jon Stone & Chiara Giordano in The Independent). However, the Remainer parties need to simplify their messages and their leaders need to tackle their image problems. URGENTLY!

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Money, Islamophobia and the Surge in Right-Wing Extremism https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2019/money-islamophobia-and-the-surge-in-right-wing-extremism/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2019/money-islamophobia-and-the-surge-in-right-wing-extremism/#respond Thu, 04 Apr 2019 14:05:30 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=15561 The mosque shootings in New Zealand on 15 March may represent a significant step up in anti- Muslim right-wing terrorism. At the time of writing, while there has been no further incident of major large-scale violence against Muslims, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and minor assaults, both verbal and physical, In the UK alone, in the week following the massacre in Christchurch, The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd reports: “…95 incidents were reported… between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March. Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims…. Verbal abuse directed at Muslims in London in separate incidents is alleged to have included shouts of ‘you need to be shot’, ‘you deserve it’ and ‘Muslims must die’. Incidents were reported in Scotland, where a mosque was attacked; in Stanwell, Surrey, where police declared the stabbing of a teenager to be a suspected far-right terror attack; and in Lancashire. Meanwhile in Birmingham, police continue to hunt for those behind sledgehammer attacks on five mosques.” After the Charlie Hedo shootings in 2015, Juan... Read More

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The mosque shootings in New Zealand on 15 March may represent a significant step up in anti- Muslim right-wing terrorism.

At the time of writing, while there has been no further incident of major large-scale violence against Muslims, there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric and minor assaults, both verbal and physical, In the UK alone, in the week following the massacre in Christchurch, The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd reports: “…95 incidents were reported… between 15 March, the day of the New Zealand atrocity, and midnight on 21 March. Of those, 85 incidents – 89% of the total – contained direct references to the New Zealand attacks and featured gestures such as mimicking firearms being fired at Muslims…. Verbal abuse directed at Muslims in London in separate incidents is alleged to have included shouts of ‘you need to be shot’, ‘you deserve it’ and ‘Muslims must die’. Incidents were reported in Scotland, where a mosque was attacked; in Stanwell, Surrey, where police declared the stabbing of a teenager to be a suspected far-right terror attack; and in Lancashire. Meanwhile in Birmingham, police continue to hunt for those behind sledgehammer attacks on five mosques.”

After the Charlie Hedo shootings in 2015, Juan Cole of the Informed Comment blog noted more than 50 anti-Muslim attacks were recorded across France in the week after the murders, while there were numerous anti-Muslim hate incidents recorded across Western Europe in the wake of the killings. So, paradoxically, whether the attacks are by Islamist terrorists on non-Muslims or by right-wing extremists on Muslims, it seems that ordinary ‘moderate’ Muslims will be abused in the aftermath!

On the face of it, this looks like racism. The Gravesian approach can explain racism as a particularly nasty form of tribalism, driven by the PURPLE vMEME’s need to discriminate between those who are from its tribe (and with whom it feels safe) and those who are not of its tribe – see: Is Racism Natural…?  For PURPLE, racism can indeed be a natural outcome of that need to discriminate – though, as Eva Telzer et al (2012) have shown, that natural tendency can be overcome through education and familiarity.

But is what is going on more than just an untrained inclination to discriminate against those who are different?

Islamism and persecution
Ever since the Madrid train bombings of March 2004 brought Islamist terrorism into the centres of Western cities, there have been increased tensions both between the non-Muslim majorities and their Muslim minorities and within the Muslim communities, between those radicalised into committing to violence in the name of Islam and those opposed to violence. It is, of course, a gross simplification to portray 2 rigid and monolithic viewpoints within the Muslim communities. There are, in fact, many, many different shades. Eg: there are fundamentalists committed to the establishment of Sharia law in their Western home countries but who are not prepared to use violence. Then there are those who believe Muslims can live in perfect harmony with their Christian, Jewish, Hindu and secular neighbours without it compromising their Muslim identity. And, of course, there are those who may identify nominally as ‘Muslims’ but are really, in both attitude and behaviour, as secular as many of those who eschew religion altogether.

The immediate danger in the fall-out from events like the Christchurch shootings is that Islamist violent extremists will respond in kind. After all the Qur’an instructs believers: “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you…and fight them until persecution is no more.” (Surah 2: 191, 193) Furthermore, the Sahih Bukhari (Volume 3/Book 43/Number 622) states: “Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfil his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.” From this perspective, it can be seen as a religious duty for Muslims to use violence in defence of their fellow Muslims.

There is no doubt the Christchurch massacre was ‘persecution’ – as were the Munich shootings of July 2016 in which 10 died and 36 were injured by a gunman shouting anti-Muslim insults at his victims (Bonnie Malkin, The Guardian, 2016). Of course, once the attack is ended, it could be argued the persecution is ended. But, while Christchurch and Munich are clearly the 2 most extreme attacks on Muslim communities by extremist right-wing whites, there has been a whole litany of lesser, small-scale attacks on Muslims over the past few years as Al Jazeera reported in the wake of Christchurch. With these and the kind of low level abuse described by Dodd and Cole, it can be argued the persecution has not ceased but is ongoing. Therefore, it is incumbent on Muslims to use violence to defend their fellow Muslims from further attack.

The extreme Islamists will already be planning their revenge attacks for Christchurch and the moderate imams will have their work cut out to stop others being radicalised. It’s to the credit of these moderate Muslim influencers – and the intelligence agencies too – that, at the time of writing at least, there has yet to be an Islamist terrorist attack in revenge for Christchurch. But there almost certainly will be…more a case of when, rather than if.

It is important here to note that the Qur’an does not give carte blanche to initiate violence – but actually warns against it – eg: “…begin not hostilities. Allah loves not aggressors.” (Surah 2: 191) and “…whoever kills another human being…it shall be as if he had killed all of mankind…” (Surah: 5:32). The extremists have to justify their use of violence in terms of persecution or oppression against themselves or other Muslims – which, by default, is wide open to multiple contextual interpretations.

Of course, it could be argued the violent Islamists started all this with 9/11. At least in the 21st Century. (Western Christian vs Muslim conflict, superseded by Western secular vs Muslim conflict, goes back more than a millennium.) But, in late 2001/early 2002, there was actually a tacit acceptance among most leaders of most Muslim countries that the United States had a right, from a Qur’anic perspective, to invade Afghanistan and destroy the al-Qaeda organisation responsible for the destruction of New York City’s twin towers. The campaign to gain at least acquiescence to the American invasion was led by Tony Blair in – what has always seemed to me – a remarkable display of 2nd Tier thinking, using the Qur’an and excerpts from various Hadith to provide a religious justification for the American action.

Unfortunately George W Bush and Blair insisted on foisting Western-style Democracy on tribal Afghanistan while diverting much needed resources from the rebuilding of that ruined country into the invasion of Iraq and the overthrew of Saddam Hussein on falsely-fabricated justifications. Not only was the invasion of Iraq illegal – in the eyes of many Western countries as well as most of the Islamic world – but the callous disregard of civilian casualties in the conflict sent out a clear message. As The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe (2017b) wrote: “The militaries of both the US and Britain kept painstaking records of its soldiers killed in both Afghanistan and Iraq – 2,280 and 4,491 for the US, and 455 and 179 for Britain. Yet, they have never tried to make an overall tally of Iraqi civilian deaths….” The impression so easily meta-stated from this is that Western lives are valuable and that Muslim Arab lives are not. It is perhaps no coincidence that the first serious Islamist terrorist event in Europe occurred the following year: the Madrid train bombings.

(There had been some Islamist terrorist bombings in Paris in the mid-1990s but they were specifically related to France’s involvement in the Algerian Civil War.)

So, while there will always be extreme Islamists like the radical Anjem Choudary who wish to create a caliphate and impose Sharia law, there is clearly a correlation between perception of persecution by the non-Muslims and the rate of radicalisation. In Gravesian terms, the religious duty of Muslims to defend their Muslim brothers – a vMEME harmonic of PURPLE and BLUE – makes them ripe for exploitation by a RED-driven demagogue like Choudary. Even the low-level abuse of Muslims that Dodd and Cole describe plays right into the hands of the radical imams, othering ordinary Muslims and pushing them towards the extremists.

Islam and the accommodation of Muslim culture into Europe and North America do indeed present huge challenges for the West, as discussed in Islamification: Europe’s Challenge. Most mainstream politicians are still not addressing these challenges…but the challenges can be addressed and the Muslim minorities can be accommodated. What is needed is politicians and academics to recognise, study and develop strategies to address the challenges – strategies which focus on the positives that Islam can add to Western society such as BLUE social disciplines.

So the 21st Century surge in Islamist terrorism is at least partly explainable through the perception of non-Muslims persecuting Muslims. But where does the surge in right-wing nationalism and extremism come from?

White nationalism and the surge in right-wing extremism
Clearly, the attacks on Muslims are in part an understandable response to Islamist extremism and terrorism. There is undoubtedly a cycle of tit-for-tat retaliatory abuse and violence.

However, the surge in right-wing extremism, while feeding on Islamism, looks to have far deeper roots than being merely responsive. Again, PURPLE tribalism is at play here. The Muslim minorities in the West are mainly Arabic or Asian in heritage so they don’t have the same skin tones as those in the white majorities, they often dress differently and they have many different cultural norms. As Social Identity Theory shows, those factors in themselves can be enough to drive a dangerous wedge between the different communities.

PURPLE, in itself, rarely initiates violence unless it perceives itself under threat. To stimulate PURPLE to violence usually requires, in the terms of Stanley Cohen (1972), the development of a moral panic and the stigmatisation of those seen to be responsible for the threat as folk devils. RED-driven demagogues, like Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Donald Trump in the United States, are expert at exploiting PURPLE fears about moral panics. Both have played with great success on the fears of ordinary, indigenous working class people about immigration.  Orbán has made the media in Hungary fairly compliant to his policies, with much support for his anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim rhetoric. The support of Fox TV in the US has been immensely important to radicalising support for Trump.

In the UK we don’t (yet) have demagogues of the calibre of Trump and Orbán – though highly dangerous, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are hardly cut from the same cloth! – but we do have a particularly odious and influential right-wing tabloid press. For years they have maligned Muslims in the UK, creating moral panics and vilifying them as folk devils – as the montage of front pages below shows.

This is not, in any way, to denigrate the very real threat that Islamist extremists present or to deny the very real challenges that accommodating Islamic culture entails. It is to show just how the tabloid press in itself is fuelling anti-Muslim fear and hatred.

It’s the same right-wing tabloid press that has been so virulently anti-European Union for decades – and pro-Brexit since at least 2014 – as the montage below demonstrates.

At some of the above front pages show, at times these right-wing tabloids tie up immigration with the EU so that the EU becomes the root cause of the repeated moral panics about immigration. The montage below of Daily Express front pages illustrates this particularly.

In so doing the tabloids are feeding on PURPLE’s fear of ‘incomers’ which goes back to the 1960s. As I argue in Enoch Powell: Racist or Prescient?, the British government (of any persuasion) has never thought through the effects of large-scale immigration on the indigenous culture and how to accommodate it other than through the failed GREEN mantra of multiculturalism. By failing to anticipate such effects and develop strategies to manage such cultural contrasts, the Government has ceded the debate to the racists and anti-immigration politicians. (Angela Merkel made a similar one-off but catastrophic mistake that significantly undermined her authority and credibility when she allowed close to a million Syrian refugees into Germany in 2015 – Ulf Liebe & Klaus Glenk, 2018. Again she didn’t anticipate the effects and how to deal with them.)

Of course, the British tabloids draw only the thinnest distinctions – if any! – between Asian Muslims whose parents and grandparents were born in the UK, their great grandparents having come to the UK in the 1960s, and the so-called ‘hordes’ of Eastern European immigrants who have come to the UK since 2005. Some of these EU migrants will be Muslims but many are Catholics. However, it seems to suit the tabloids to conflate Islamism with immigration.

It almost seems that, in stoking right-wing anti-Muslm/anti-immigrant nationalism, the tabloids – or those who own them – actually want confrontation between cultures. It is almost as if the tabloid owners buy into Samuel Huntington’s (1993; 1996)  infamous contention that civilisations will always clash and that other cultures will try to destroy the Western supposedly superior culture.

But the media which drive right-wing nationalism are not purely RED-driven. They are – or are part – of vast media conglomerates which generate huge profits for their owners and shareholders. There is an ORANGE commercial drive underlying this media near-relentless anti-Muslim/anti-EU/anti-immigrant campaigning. So, are there any other reasons they do this other than to sell papers or advertising?

Divide and rule…and prosper!
I argued in How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats that the Top 1% – the super-rich or ‘Plutocracy’, as Guy Standing (2009) terms them are bent on reducing the regulations – taxes, environmental protection, employment rights, healthy & safety, etc – that restrict their ability to maximise profit. I also argued that they use Standing’s (2014) next stratum down, the Elite, to do this. One element of their strategy is Trump who, by December 2017, had cancelled or delayed 1,500 regulatory actions, according to Celine McNicholas, Heidi Shierholz & Marni von Wilpert (2018) of the Economic Policy Institute. Thus, Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch, champions Trump (currently worth $3.1 BN, according to Forbes) against all the allegations against him and helps sustain his popularity amongst the American white working classes.

Interestingly, Murdoch – just about in the Plutocracy at $13.1 BN – is heavily involved in Brexit, having stated that he wants to see the EU broken up because the European Commission blocked him getting full control of Sky TV (Anthony Hilton, 2016). Brexit is another element in the Plutocracy’s deregulation strategy and Murdoch’s The Sun has been one of the most vociferous champions of Brexit. The other main British media magnates supporting Brexit are in the upper echelons of the Elite:  David and Frederick Barclay, owners of the Daily Telegraph, have joint worth of £7 BN; Daily Express and Daily Star owner Richard Desmond is worth £2.25 BN; Jonathan Harmsworth, controlling shareholder in the trust which owns the Daily Mail, is worth £1 BN.  (Worth figures are from Campaign’s Brittaney Kiefer in 2016.) 

The new EU Tax Avoidance Directive gives the Plutocracy and its Elite lackeys yet more reason to want the EU done away! So whipping up anti-EU right-wing hysteria is clearly in the interests of the media magnates.

Back in 2010 I wondered Why is the West ignoring a Leading Moderate Muslim? and queried why Muslim clerics weren’t being invited onto television and radio to explain that Islamist terrorist atrocities only reflected a tiny sliver of Muslim thought and not the majority of Muslims. I eventually got an answer of sorts from reading media sociologists like David Edwards & David Cromwell (2006). They argue that the Capitalist elites manipulate the media to focus on stories that serve to maintain their control on society while obscuring narratives such as 5% of the West’s population owning 90% of its wealth.

I would now go further and contend that limited violent conflict actually suits the Plutocracy and their Elite lackeys. A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would almost certainly be too high a risk – with radioactive contaminate potentially spreading around the globe and causing untold chaos and havoc. By ‘limited’, I mean the likes of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War from 2015. Both theatres of war gave the American, British and Russian arms manufacturers ample opportunity to test and show off their latest weaponry – the US, Russia and the UK being the world’s leading arms exporters, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2017). Arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin (US) and BAE Systems (UK) are massive transnational corporations generating huge amounts of revenue worldwide and dedicated to maximising shareholder profit. Ownership of such companies is via tangled webs of  banks and investment platforms such as Blackrock and Invesco, making it difficult to locate individual shareholdings easily. Russia’s biggest arms manufacturer AlmazAntey is state-owned. As Al Jazeera’s Mansur Mirovalev reported in 2016, Vladimir Putin (worth $70 BN, according to Time’s Rob Wile in 2017) was explicit in saying the Syrian Civil War was a good advertisement of the capabilities of Russian weapons capable of boosting Russia’s military sales.

So there is money to be paid in agitating, creating and emphasising divisions and promoting violent conflict. As Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane sang back in 1967 about the Vietnam War: “War’s good business, so give your son”.

There are also huge amounts of money in the reconstruction that follows war and conflict. Eg: Anna Fifield (2013) reported in the Financial Times  in 2013 that private contractors had made some $138 BN from the post-war  reconstruction of Iraq.

What is clearly implied in what I have written above is that the Plutocracy and their Elite lackeys are happy to promote conflict so they can…

  • sell papers and magazines and advertising on TV and radio and online
  • distract the people from investigating their wealth
  • sell arms when the conflicts turn to violence
  • make money from reconstruction when the violence ends

Said E Dawlabani (2013) see such aims as coming from ‘toxic [dysfunctional] ORANGE’ with its ‘only money matters’ meme. This combination of vMEME and meme has no morality and sees compassion and human rights as merely unimportant concepts that get in the way of maximising wealth. Other people are to be used for that wealth creation; they have no value beyond their use in that aim. It is also worth noting that most of the plutocrats and members of the Elite are men and that some of their compulsiveness and ruthlessness may also be related to the Psychoticism Dimension of Temperament, associated with the male sex hormone testosterone.

Of course, not all plutocrats and members of the Elite are so obsessed with increasing their personal wealth that they will encourage the destruction of others. Some seem to be quite the reverse. For example Bill Gates (the richest man in the world at $95 BN, according to Forbes) has reinvented himself as a philanthropist with a particular interest in improving education and reducing poverty – his ORANGE seemingly haven given way to GREEN. Likewise George Soros who is worth just $8BN after donating more than $32 BN to his philanthropic Open Society Foundation. Richard Branson ($5BN) is known both for his charitable works and his strong and very public anti-Brexit stance – even reported by Paul Withers (2018) in the Daily Express!

Nonetheless, the power of the Plutocracy is truly frightening and the willingness of they and their Elite lackeys to sacrifice others on a large-scale in their pursuit of wealth is hideous. Division, conflict and war have many sources…but every time a new division emerges or a conflict is exacerbated, we need to ask the question: who is making money from this? To quote the line first uttered in the movie All the President’s Men, “Follow the money”.

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Article 50 Withdrawal: John Major is wrong! https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/article-50-withdrawal-john-major-is-wrong/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/article-50-withdrawal-john-major-is-wrong/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2018 18:04:26 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=14854 There must be a Second EU Referendum Last Monday (10 December) the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the UK could unilaterally revoke its letter of withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50. It’s a measure of how desperate and how ideologically tied to Brexit Theresa May’s government is that they have wasted millions fighting against this case, chasing it progressively through the courts. It’s astonishing – if not outrightly bizarre! – that a government so bereft of viable options actually wanted to block off one of the most plausible. Then again, I’ve thought for some time that May and her multi-millionaire husband are members of the Elite in service to the Plutocracy who control most of the world’s wealth (Guy Standing, 2011; 2014). Thus, she and her government represent not the so-called ‘national interest’ but the interests of the ‘uber-rich’. Brexit is just one strand of the Plutocracy’s campaign to bring about massive worldwide deregulation of commerce and industry to they can maximise profit…and consequently their personal wealth. See: How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…. The ECJ ruling is a significant blow to those in the Plutocracy and their Elite lackeys who see Brexit as a critical... Read More

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There must be a Second EU Referendum

Last Monday (10 December) the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the UK could unilaterally revoke its letter of withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50.

It’s a measure of how desperate and how ideologically tied to Brexit Theresa May’s government is that they have wasted millions fighting against this case, chasing it progressively through the courts. It’s astonishing – if not outrightly bizarre! – that a government so bereft of viable options actually wanted to block off one of the most plausible. Then again, I’ve thought for some time that May and her multi-millionaire husband are members of the Elite in service to the Plutocracy who control most of the world’s wealth (Guy Standing, 2011; 2014). Thus, she and her government represent not the so-called ‘national interest’ but the interests of the ‘uber-rich’. Brexit is just one strand of the Plutocracy’s campaign to bring about massive worldwide deregulation of commerce and industry to they can maximise profit…and consequently their personal wealth. See: How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats….

The ECJ ruling is a significant blow to those in the Plutocracy and their Elite lackeys who see Brexit as a critical first step in dismembering the EU and getting rid of its regulatory inhibitions on unfettered exploitations of people and the environment. The meme that Brexit is irreversible, which the Government had tried so hard to pass off as the truth, has been shown to be false.

It is, of course, a mistake to perceive either the Plutocracy or the Elite as homogenous entities. There are several plutocrats who are more people-centred – eg: George Soros (worth just $8BN after donating more than $32 BN) to his philanthropic Open Society Foundation, according to Forbes) while Bill Gates ($95BN) and Richard Branson ($5BN) are both know for contributions to charitable enterprises. In Gravesian terms, such pluotcrats seem to be driven – at least some of the time – more by the GREEN than the ORANGE vMEME. Nonetheless, a callous, ruthless, highly manipulative and totally self-centred mindset does seem to characterise most of the plutocrats and their Elite lackeys.

John Major speaking about Article 50 withdrawal in Dublin. Photo copyright © 2018 ALAMY

Following the ECJ ruling, one of the more-pragmatic member of the Elite, former prime minister John Major, called for the Government to immediately rescind the Article 50 letter. Major’s call has been widely reported – eg: Rob Merrick in The Independent – and stimulated some considerable debate in a political week dominated by Brexit, the challenge by her own rebels to May’s leadership and the failure of her own way-too-ambitious attempt to persuade the EU to find a way of legally limiting any application of the ‘Northern Ireland backstop’.

Thankfully, May ignored Major’s intervention – and no other senior politician echoed his call. While the ECJ ruling does give the UK the option of withdrawal, for the Government or Parliament to take up that action without a further consultation with ‘the people’ would be widely seen as usurping the 2016 EU referendum and undermining Democracy. In the lead-up to the 2016 referendum David Cameron’s government mailed every household in the UK to say his government would implement the outcome of the referendum – thus effectively making the referendum result government policy. So, if ‘will of the people’ made the policy to withdraw, anything other than ‘the will of the people’ changing that policy would be seen as dismissing ‘the will of the people’.

The gift Parliament dare not use
There is no doubt legally that Parliament has the right to order the Government to rescind the Article 50 letter. The 2016 referendum was only ever advisory – see graphics below – and there was, legally, no obligation for either the Government or Parliament to accept the referendum result. It could be argued that Parliament should have debated the result in detail and then decided it was not in the national interest to implement it. The many criticisms of the conduct of the referendum campaigns, clear bias and falsehoods purveyed by certain politicians and many tabloids and viable allegations of Russian interference in the campaigns would all have lent an air of moral legitimacy to such a decision.

Ever since assuming power, Theresa May has made carrying out ‘the will of the British people’ her dictum. On the face of it, this looks like BLUE duty to the ‘national interest’. However, her desperate insistence on cleaving to the referendum outcome despite clear damage to her country, manipulation of both Leavers and Remainers amongst Conservative politicians and her refusal to consider any other course than the ‘deal’ she negotiated with Brussels looks more like a RED/ORANGE vMEME harmonic of self-interest. If she can only get the deal through Parliament, the UK’s standing in the world will have been considerably reduced but the economy not totally trashed; meanwhile, the EU will be considerably weakened post-Brexit and liable to more internal disputes, threatening further disintegration – to the delight of many plutocrats and their Elite lackeys. (The tensions between Western Europe and the ‘Visegrád 4’ – Solvakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland – are already way beyond simmering….) As for May and her hedge-fund husband and their friends in the Plutocracy and the Elite, the UK leaving the EU before the end of March 2019 means the UK won’t have to implement the Anti Tax Avoidance Directive which could have very unpleasant ramifications for Philip May, Jacob Rees-Mogg, David and Frederick Barclay and many of the uber-rich hiding their money in British tax havens.

By constantly referring to ‘the will of the British people’, May makes her self-interest look like the ‘national interest’. Thus, any challenge to her policy is a challenge to the ‘national interest’. May has displayed astonishing incompetence in her 18 months as prime minister but there is little doubt she is highly Machiavellian in the way she presents and distorts perception of her speeches and behaviour. Thus, though it has the right to, it would be extremely unwise for Parliament to simply cancel the Article 50 withdrawal letter.

Reconciling a divided nation
The unfortunate fact is that the 2016 referendum has left the UK a bitterly-divided kingdom. This is felt at a visceral PURPLE tribal level and it is difficult at first to see how the tribes of Leave and Remain can be reconciled. The 21st Century United Kingdom has many tribal lines of division – eg: Scots vs English, northerner vs southerner, working class vs middle class, young vs old and any number of racial and ethnic faultlines. But one divisive identifier seems increasingly to be dominating social life: are you a Leaver or a Remainer?

With the 29 March 2019 Brexit date drawing ominously near, I am slightly surprised there has not been violence yet and would not be surprised if violence does occur in the near future. Just the other Sunday (9 December) pro- and anti-Brexit marchers had to be kept apart by police at the ‘Brexit Betrayal’ march. For anyone who thinks I’m being melodramatic about the risk of violence, I would say simply: Jo Cox.

Brexit Betrayal march – photo courtesy of Sam Blewett

Tony Blair is the latest big hitter to call – yet again! – for a second EU referendum.  (Prior to the EC J ruling, Major had been campaigning consistently for a second referendum.) Predictably May lashed out against Blair saying, rather waspishly: “For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held and the people he once served.” (BBC News, 2018f) Blair’s response was rather more nuanced: “To describe such a course as an insult is a strange description of what would be the opportunity for them to instruct Parliament as to how to proceed. Far from being anti-democratic, it would be the opposite – as indeed many senior figures in her party from past and present have been saying.”  (Sky News) However, what really makes May’s refusal to hold a second referendum seem both hypocritical and anti-democratic is her now-former Brexit secretary David Davis saying in a 2012 speech on the EU: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy” (Benjamin Kentish in The Independent, 2017).

Thus, there is a principle that an electorate can change its mind – otherwise, there would be no point in having elections.

Given the facts that Parliament is in deadlock on May’s deal, the country has been split by the polarisations of the Brexit debate – the narrowness of the Leave victory in 2016 resolved nothing – and that extremism is growing on both sides, a second referendum may be the only way of healing our divided kingdom. The decision to leave the EU was made by ‘the people’ – how ever they were lied to and manipulated by the Elitist politicians and media; therefore, the rescinding of that decision must be made by ‘the people’. Moreover, as I argued in The Case for a Second EU Referendum is now compelling, there needs to be a margin of at least 10% for whichever side is the victor. The No result in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, with a 10% margin of victory was widely considered to have “settled the matter for a generation” (Alex Salmond, quoted by the Daily Telegraph’s Simon Johnson). SW 10% should be the minimum required to decide whether the UK rescinds the Article 50 letter or leaves the EU – even without a ‘deal’, if a satisfactory one cannot be obtained.

The conduct of a second referendum
Given both what is at stake and the amount of mistruths and outright lies purveyed by politicians on both sides – but mostly by Leave (Electoral Reform Society, as reported by The Guardian’s Rajeev Syal, 2016) – and the hysterical anti-EU propaganda pushed out by the right-wing tabloids, it is critical that a second referendum is run and monitored in a very different fashion to the 2016 plebiscite, to ensure fairness and transparency. I outlined ideas for this in The Case for a Second EU Referendum is now compelling and recommend readers to view and assess them in that Blog post.

It might be thought, with all the transfer of banks and other financial services to the continental EU, the resiting of some manufacturing and many delays in inward investment, not to mention the pressures placed on the NHS and agricultural industries by European immigrants returning home, with some economic forecasters predicting a post-Brexit recession worse than that of 2008-2009, that the vast majority of people would have turned against Brexit. This appears not to be the case.

As the NatCen poll tracker below shows, while Remain has more or less held a consistent lead over Leave during the past 18 months, the lead has not been that great – and nothing like as strong as might be predicted in view of the Government’s demonstrated incompetence during the Brexit negotiations and the manifest social and economic harm Brexit is already causing. This month polling expert analyst John Curtice (2018b) notes that 53% Remain and 47% Leave seems to be the most accurate reflection of current trend.

Summary of 49 polls 28/06/16-06/12/18 – copyright © 2018 NatCen Social Research

These stats show Remainers cannot afford in the slightest to be complacent. A reversal of Brexit by a second referendum, were that to come about, is far from a sure thing at this stage.

Of course, the right-wing tabloids have continued to vent their fury at the EU, unhindered and uncensored, blaming its intransigence rather than ‘Team May’s’ incompetence or lack of vision, for every setback in the negotiations. And, of course, Jeremy Corbyn’s personal tacit support for Brexit has deprived Labour of the ability to actually *oppose* the Government and hold it to account on Brexit.

In all fairness, little has changed in the ‘life conditions’ of many of the ‘left behind’ who voted Leave in 2016 – nor is much hope offered that their life conditions might improve. So little wonder that so many of them continue to believe the vitriol the Elite-owned tabloids heap on the EU and immigrants as the source of their misery.

Where hope might come for Remainers desperate to overturn Brexit in a second referendum is in the large number of ‘don’t knows’ and those who didn’t vote in 2016.. For some time Curtice (2018a; 2018b) has indicated that these are the ones who are most likely to be persuaded to vote Remain in a second referendum. So these substantial numbers of people, now experiencing the deleterious effects just of neo-Brexit (before we get the full thing), are the ones the anti-Brexiteers need to profile and target.

And what if Leave win again…?
If a second referendum, conducted fairly and transparently, with deceitful politicians and propaganda-spouting media held fully to account, produced a Leave victory of at least 10%, then the matter would have to be considered “settled for a generation”. Remainers would have to accept that, at this point in time, the majority of the people in the UK (as a single entity) preferred a lower standard of living and risking the break-up of the United Kingdom to being a part of the European Union.

But, just as the Leavers (Out) began plotting a future withdrawal from the EU shortly after the 1975 referendum delivered a very sizeable victory for Remain (In), there will be those who start working for another vote, even if it’s in another generation.

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Looking Beyond the Midterm Elections https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/looking-beyond-the-midterm-elections/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/looking-beyond-the-midterm-elections/#respond Tue, 06 Nov 2018 14:49:10 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=14599 In Quest for Humanity’s Master Code by Don Beck 6 November 2018 I am thrilled to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck which has been published elsewhere – such as Said E Dawlabani’s MEMEnomics Group – and has been sent to several media outlets.  Don is, of course, writing about the left-right extreme polarisation in American politics which has become such as dominating and divisive discourse in the United States since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign in 2016. But the Brexit ‘debate’ – and ‘debate’ may too polite a term for it! – has wrought similar highly-polarised divisions in British society. As with the US, so superordinate goals will need to be created in the UK to bring our divided kingdom together in a healing process. A great deal of what Don has to say is relevant to all societies bedevilled by polarisation. You can e-mail Don or visit the Spiral Dynamics Integral website to find out more about his work. I want you to stand 30 years in the future and tell me if the America you see is the one you envisioned in November 2018. Has the ‘us v them’ polarization disappeared? Have we become a stronger union because of it, or did one... Read More

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In Quest for Humanity’s Master Code
by
Don Beck
6 November 2018

I am thrilled to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck which has been published elsewhere – such as Said E Dawlabani’s MEMEnomics Group – and has been sent to several media outlets. 

Don is, of course, writing about the left-right extreme polarisation in American politics which has become such as dominating and divisive discourse in the United States since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign in 2016. But the Brexit ‘debate’ – and ‘debate’ may too polite a term for it! – has wrought similar highly-polarised divisions in British society. As with the US, so superordinate goals will need to be created in the UK to bring our divided kingdom together in a healing process. A great deal of what Don has to say is relevant to all societies bedevilled by polarisation.

You can e-mail Don or visit the Spiral Dynamics Integral website to find out more about his work.

I want you to stand 30 years in the future and tell me if the America you see is the one you envisioned in November 2018. Has the ‘us v them’ polarization disappeared? Have we become a stronger union because of it, or did one side of the political spectrum overpower the other and forever silence it. If it’s the latter, then look closer and see what has become of the other side. Has it transformed ideologically or has its repressed voice become even a greater vehicle for division sewing seeds for another civil war?

As a doctoral student of Muzafer Sherif, one of the founding fathers of Social Psychology I learned early in my career about the psychosocial characteristics of conflict resolution. Oftentimes, competition for political leadership can lead to negative prejudices, frozen stereotypes and fractious interparty conflicts. These are the early signs of trouble. As competition increases, each side moves towards an-all-or-nothing end point making it difficult to find common ground. Under this type of political division, one side enjoys the spoils of victory while the other waits in the wings for its turn, ignoring the real damage the discord is causing to the very fabric of a country.

I have been a witness to these political dynamics several times in my life in many hot spots around the world. They were present in South Africa where, over a 10-year period I helped the country’s leaders design conflict-minimizing measures to insure a smooth transition from Apartheid. If you’ve seen the movie Invictus, then you’ve seen the work I’ve done on nation building through sports after years of helping Nelson Mandela and F W Deklerk create a future vision for South Africa. Similar efforts were undertaken in the West Bank and Israel. In both of these initiatives, what gave people hope is the idea that a peaceful, conflict-free future is possible. This type of optimism and long-term thinking is exactly what is absent from today’s political debate in America. Just as the right vilified President Obama, the left is doing the same with President Trump. Both sides of the political spectrum have become closed minded, set on demonizing the other side and rejecting any and all ideas on compromise regardless of their merit. Things can’t possibly get any worse.

But here’s where solutions begin: the creation of superordinate goals. This concept comes from one of Sherif’s research efforts called the Robber’s Cave Experiment. At the heart of this model is the idea that groups in conflict, who don’t see compromise with the other side as a possibility, must be made aware of the bigger picture and the resulting consequences should division worsen. The definition of a superordinate goal is one that both sides to a conflict desire to achieve but cannot do so on their own and must enrol the help of the other. It is working together to avert disastrous outcomes that neither side desires. This is what responsible leadership at the highest level must undertake, but unfortunately the world has not seen it happen too many times. Historically when countries fail to properly formulate superordinate goals the results, at best have been further division and at worse devastating wars.

Unfortunately, the belief systems of both political parties in America today have become so rigid that ideas like saving the planet or stopping climate change as superordinate goals don’t speak to all sides equally. These values are generally associated with the progressive liberal side of the political spectrum that has been demonized and thrown into the enemy camp. Similarly, ideas on merit, self-reliance, limited government and jobs for all Americans receive the same level of vitriol as they become rigidly demonized into the conservative side of the political spectrum. When there’s clarity on a nation’s superordinate goal, it is the middle that’s made up of pragmatists and conciliators on both sides that kept the system moving smoothly. Seniority and political craftsmanship was its hallmark. Unfortunately today, that middle has disappeared and those who hold seniority on both sides are choosing not to run for reelection leaving the nation more polarized.

The solution to our predicament does not lie in whom we elect in the upcoming midterms. It has more to do with a political system that needs to be informed by a new superordinate goal that speaks to the future. Our current political parties are beholden to values of a bygone era informed by the standards of the Industrial Age. This is the narrative that suppresses the emergence of new paradigms. The voices of our politically ambitious youth are muffled. The minute they declare their desire to change the system, they’re thrown into the dark rigid confines of the 2 political parties. The result is more of the same gridlock.

I can’t claim to have all the answer for, or to know the finer details of a superordinate goal that has a future pull for all of America. But I do know this: the future of American politics is not a fight between the left and the right. It is a fight between the future and the past and we have to make room for young leadership to emerge. Solutions in the future will be based on leadership that deploys the talents of the ‘best fit’ that champion the values of ‘thrive and let thrive’ not on rigid ideologies of the left or the right which today only produce ‘win-loose’ outcomes and create further division.

Historically, we have called on the youth in the military to defend us against enemies. Today, we must help our youth create a positive superordinate goal and empower them to pursue it so when we stand 30 years in the future, we can look back and be proud of our actions today. That’s leadership at the highest level that’s sorely missing from politics today.

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Has Boris Johnson inadvertently done Us a Favour? https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/has-boris-johnson-inadvertently-done-us-a-favour/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/has-boris-johnson-inadvertently-done-us-a-favour/#comments Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:50:31 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=14313 Boris Johnson has been roundly pilloried by the left-leaning press and by socialists and liberals on social media for his comments about burqa-wearing Muslim women looking “ridiculous” because burqas make their wearers look like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”. But the criticisms have come not just from the left. Theresa May and Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis are among top Tories who have called for Johnson to apologise. The party has received so many complaints, an investigation into whether Johnson’s already- infamous article in the Daily Telegraph has brought the party into disrepute is proposed. Separately some MPs – such as Labour’s Jon Trickett – have called for Johnson to be disciplined for breaking the Ministerial Code (BBC News, 2018d). In the wake of Johnson’s Telegraph article, there has been a spike in attacks on Muslim women wearing burqas and niqabs – reported by The Independent’s Lizzie Dearden, among others. This tweet by Amanda Fleiss and posted to Facebook by Huddersfield TUC captures the indignity and distress of one such attack. As reported by The Independent’s Joe Watts (2018b) amongst others, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has demanded that Johnson is subjected to a full disciplinary investigation and that there is... Read More

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Boris Johnson has been roundly pilloried by the left-leaning press and by socialists and liberals on social media for his comments about burqa-wearing Muslim women looking “ridiculous” because burqas make their wearers look like “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

But the criticisms have come not just from the left. Theresa May and Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis are among top Tories who have called for Johnson to apologise. The party has received so many complaints, an investigation into whether Johnson’s already- infamous article in the Daily Telegraph has brought the party into disrepute is proposed. Separately some MPs – such as Labour’s Jon Trickett – have called for Johnson to be disciplined for breaking the Ministerial Code (BBC News, 2018d).

Tweet by Amanda Fleiss

In the wake of Johnson’s Telegraph article, there has been a spike in attacks on Muslim women wearing burqas and niqabs – reported by The Independent’s Lizzie Dearden, among others. This tweet by Amanda Fleiss and posted to Facebook by Huddersfield TUC captures the indignity and distress of one such attack.

As reported by The Independent’s Joe Watts (2018b) amongst others, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has demanded that Johnson is subjected to a full disciplinary investigation and that there is no whitewash.

However, several leading Tory backbenchers – most notably Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg – have now defended Johnson’s right to say what he did while the Sunday ExpressKate Devlin reports a ComRes poll finding 53% of respondents thought Johnson should not be disciplined and 60% felt freedom of speech was under attack.

The right-wing backlash against attempts to curtail Johnson’s remarks is further exacerbated by Donald Trump’s election mastermind Steve Bannon, who recently met with Johnson and Michael Gove to discuss promoting right wing populism across Europe. Bannon urged Johnson not to “bow at the altar of political correctness” by apologising (Watts).

The Guardian’s Nadia Khomami reports that the MCB’s Harun Rashid Khan has complained that the defence of Johnson by some Tory MPs “has shone a light on the underbelly of Islamophobia that is present within the party”. An inverse reflection of this is that the British National Party (BNP) is reported by the Business Insider’s Adam Bienkov to be endorsing Johnson as the UK’s next prime minister.

Freedom of speech and political correctness
So should Johnson be disciplined for ridiculing and disparaging women wearing the burqa? Or is criticism of his burqa comments simply political correctness gone mad, as Bannon implies?

The polarisation of opinion over Johnson’s comments can be described in Gravesian terms as a PURPLE/blue vMEME harmonic defending Johnson and a blue/GREEN harmonic criticising him.

The GREEN vMEME regards all as equal and worthy, regardless of colour of skin, nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion, etc. Those who are disadvantaged and/or in the minority are to be protected – by the law (where possible) – and developed by education and positive discrimination.

On the other hand PURPLE, with its motivation to find safety-in-belonging, is deeply suspicious of anyone not-of-our-tribe; our tribe is the in-group and all other tribes are out-groups. As Social Identity Theory demonstrates, such simple categorisations as ‘our tribe’ and ‘your tribe’ can produce animosity, conflict and even violence. The easier it is to distinguish who is in our tribe and who is not, the more likely prejudice & discrimination will occur. Superficial differentiators such as colour of skin and cultural dress differences (salwar kameez, burqa, etc) make it easy for the majority in-group to identify and target minority out-groups.

Although it will be deeply unpalatable for those whose thinking is dominated by GREEN, racism is simply an expression of PURPLE tribalism and is, at that level, not unnatural – see: Is Racism Natural..?

In the most simplistic sense, the polarisation is driven by egalitarianism vs tribalism – 2 totally different ways of thinking. So, for those whose thinking is driven by PURPLE, Britain is for ‘indigenous’ Brits and not for non-whites with an ‘alien’ religion. At best, such people should be made to conform to ‘British’ norms and values; at worst, they are inferior, don’t belong and can be discriminated against. Such thinking is anathema to GREEN with its inclusive and egalitarian mindsets.

It’s worth reminding ourselves here of the key part anti-immigration sentiment – and the racism underlying it – is thought to have played in the 2016 EU referendum – see So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?

In more ways than one, the divisions over Johnson’s remarks  – especially amongst the Conservatives – reflect divisions over Brexit. For example, Rees-Mogg and Duncan Smith are Johnson’s fellow arch-Brexiteers. Dominic Grieve, one of the Tories’ leading anti-Brexit rebels, states Johnson is not “a fit and proper person to lead” (Jessica Elgot, The Guardian). The press reflect these divisions too: the Express and the Telegraph support both Johnson and Brexit; The Guardian and The Independent are highly critical of both Johnson and the way the Government is pursuing Brexit.

The issues of racism, immigration and Brexit are inextricably linked.

Time to talk about difficult issues
Back in 2010 I started off the Blog post Is restricting Immigration discriminatory? with the lines “At last, it’s starting to become OK to talk about immigration. Of course, it’s been a hot topic for the British National Party (BNP), their British National Front predecessors and the far right for years – in fact, decades…. ”

Over those decades GREEN thinking had largely succeeded in labelling those who opposed immigration as ‘racist’. Those who were thus labelled were disparaged by the intelligentsia and most of the media. It was ‘not OK’ to talk about the problems immigration brought and the issues around acculturation. (Acculturation is about how and in what ways immigrants do or don’t integrate into the majority host culture.) The UK was to become multi-cultural, with Indian, Chinese, Pakistani and Caribbean norms and values to be just as valued as much as white British – if not more so, to achieve positive discrimination.

The memes that ‘foreigners’ were taking ‘our jobs’ and threatening ‘our way of life’ only spread further as the New International Division of Labour transferred the jobs of the white working class overseas, the expansion of the EU introduced more (Eastern European) immigrants into the UK and the right-wing press lurched ever further to the right in the years after Margaret Thatcher.

It was only the growing popularity and European electoral successes of the BNP in the 2000s that really forced immigration and multiculturalism onto the political agendas. Even then there was little serious attempt by the Coalition and Conservative governments to tackle immigration and the broader issues it  created and which, to some extent, Enoch Powell had forecast back in his infamous ‘rivers of blood’ speech back in 1968. Ironically it was Theresa May as Home Secretary who repeatedly announced self-imposed targets to reduce immigration and then failed to meet them. The Government seemed content to let the right-wing press blame the EU and ‘freedom of movement’ for its own incompetence and failures.

Despite multiculturalism failing as a social philosophy – see David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT… – there was even less effort put into the broader issues of acculturation and integration of those who were second and third generation descended from immigrants.

As discussed in How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…, the Government’s failure to address the concerns of the so-called ‘left behind’ allowed the plutocrats and their Elite lackeys to manipulate the media to make immigration a key issue in the 2016 referendum.

Ongoing failure to address acculturation issues and the way people from all communities feel about them and to devise appropriate mid-to-longer-term policies and strategies allows opportunistic manipulators like Boris Johnson to exploit PURPLE fears about those who are ‘different’. Driven by a RED/orange harmonic and almost certainly high in the temperamental dimension of Psychoticism, Johnson sees opportunities for self-aggrandisement and is ruthless in pursuit of his own career…but he has little sense of consequences. Johnson is perceived by many of his fellow Tories to be positioning himself for an Autumn leadership bid by empathising with the hard right who do have a notable presence amongst party activists and thus could sway a leadership election. For example, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called Johnson out, saying: “This wasn’t an off-the-cuff slip, he wrote a column, he knew exactly what he was doing….” Just as he has pursued – and is still pursuing an economically-disastrous Brexit in pursuit of his own career, Johnson appears willing to stoke Islamophobia and trash 5 decades of improving race relations.

Johnson is a highly-dangerous man…but the UK’s increasingly-fragile cultural interfaces could be even more at risk if Johnson, Gove and their like facilitate the entrance of Steve Bannon into British politics.

However, there may be some real benefits to come from the mini-crisis Johnson has instigated.

A week ago (9 August) Patrick Duffy, Chairman of the South-West Wiltshire Conservative Association, was asked on Newsnight for his views on the controversy surrounding Johnson’s burqa comments. His very measured response was highly interesting. While he stated unequivocally that he couldn’t endorse Johnson’s language, he did throw up the suggestion that the issue needed to be raised: how people felt about what the burqa symbolised: an ethnic minority community living with some very different norms and values that could seem very threatening to the majority. Duffy was showing that he understood PURPLE concerns. In a roundabout way, he suggested that Johnson had done us a favour by putting the kingdom into a position where it could now discuss something it previously had not been able to – due, indeed, to GREEN-driven political correctness

I’m inclined to agree. Johnson’s RED has shot a hole in the GREEN orthodoxy inhibiting discussion  of acculturation issues. By engaging fully with acculturation issues, we minimise the ability of the plutocrats and their Elite lackeys in the media to manipulate the kingdom.

There is a conversation to be had.

Muslims and UK society
As I discussed in Islamification: Europe’s Challenge, the growing number of Muslims in the UK and other European countries means their political voices need to be heard through the conventional political systems. If their voices aren’t heard in these ways, then they become marginalised and vulnerable to radicalisation.

No politicians, to my knowledge, are yet talking about – much less envisioning – what the UK might be like when 20-25% of the population are Muslim (to some degree or other). There are no public discussions about what level of integration there should be ideally or how to achieve it. There are no public discussions about how the white/non-Muslim majority can be reassured that their children’s futures will not be under Sharia law – which some of the more extreme anti-Islam groups (Britain First, the English Defence League, etc) would have us believe is a real likelihood.

In this respect, Johnson inadvertently may have actually have done us a favour if his burqa comments do kickstart such discussions.

Unless the UK is going to have a Nazi-style fascist government prepared to commit genocide upon our Muslim population – and, how ever much some of the most extreme white supremacists might relish such a prospect, it’s not going to happen – then we have what we have. There is no ‘sending back’ 3rd or 4th generation Pakistani-heritage Muslims – legally and by birthright they are citizens of the UK as much as any white Christian Briton.

As a walk-down any town centre high street tells us – with its curry houses, kebab shops, Chinese takeaways, etc – the UK has changed massively since the 1950s. Given the fact that such eating places could not survive without significant white patronage, it’s not unreasonable to assume that most white Britons are not too ‘uncomfortable’ with the changes immigration has brought – even if many are not totally ‘comfortable’ with them. That in itself is indicative of the need to have a conversation.

Don Beck’s Assimilation-Contrast Effect – developed by applying Spiral Dynamics to Muzafir Sherif’s Social Judgement Theory – shows us that the moderates on both sides engaging with each other and looking to work together in the common interest, effectively isolates and dis-empowers the extremists.

At the end of the day, most communities want the same thing: employment producing income, reasonable housing, access to effective healthcare and good education, little or no crime, social and criminal justice, freedom to practice your religion, etc, etc. As Sherif’s Robber’s Cave study demonstrated, working together reduces inter-group tension. As Eva Telzer et al (2012) demonstrated from fMRI scans of amygdala activity, familiarity between different ethnic groups reduces fear responses.

But to get that working together and to develop familiarity, there has to be engagement – there has to be a conversation.

And it also has to be accepted that there will never be a perfect racially/ethnically-harmonious nirvana. Changing life conditions will always produce problems – Ichak Adizes (1996) proposes that it’s normal to have problems and that the only people without problems are dead people! Under pressure, PURPLE tends to drive people into tribalism with its in-group/out-group effect – so it needs to be recognised that inter-group relations will always need monitoring and adjustments made.

But the starting point is for the moderates to start the conversation and take the issues around Islam, burqas and whatever else out of the hands of the extremists.

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The Case for a Second EU Referendum is now compelling https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/the-case-for-a-second-eu-referendum-is-now-compelling/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/the-case-for-a-second-eu-referendum-is-now-compelling/#comments Thu, 12 Jul 2018 16:05:12 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=13710 Even if, following the departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson (and a minor slew of lesser Tories), Theresa May can impose a workable degree of collective responsibility on her new-look Cabinet….even if, as reported by BBC News (2018b), the 1922 Committee has yet to receive the full 48 letters from MPs required to trigger a ‘no confidence’ vote in her as leader of the Conservatives…even if there are no more big name resignations…the chances of May’s compromise fudge, supposedly accepted by all Cabinet members at Chequers last Friday (6 August), forming a viable starting point for negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the European Union are minimal. As Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations explained to The National’s Emer O’Toole: “This is the cherry picking that the EU has made clear will not be allowed to proceed…[the EU] will not go for such cherry-picking of the single market and the four freedoms.” The UK leaving the EU with no trade deal will indeed hurt companies in a number of member states. However, as been widely and consistently reported – eg: Paul Withers (2018a) in the Daily Express – for Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the integrity of the single market and... Read More

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Theresa May’s reshuffled Cabinet, 10 July. Copyright © 2018 Downing Street

Even if, following the departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson (and a minor slew of lesser Tories), Theresa May can impose a workable degree of collective responsibility on her new-look Cabinet….even if, as reported by BBC News (2018b), the 1922 Committee has yet to receive the full 48 letters from MPs required to trigger a ‘no confidence’ vote in her as leader of the Conservatives…even if there are no more big name resignations…the chances of May’s compromise fudge, supposedly accepted by all Cabinet members at Chequers last Friday (6 August), forming a viable starting point for negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the European Union are minimal. As Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations explained to The National’s Emer O’Toole“This is the cherry picking that the EU has made clear will not be allowed to proceed…[the EU] will not go for such cherry-picking of the single market and the four freedoms.”

The UK leaving the EU with no trade deal will indeed hurt companies in a number of member states. However, as been widely and consistently reported – eg: Paul Withers (2018a) in the Daily Express – for Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the integrity of the single market and the upholding of the ‘4 Freedoms’ is more important than the even their own countries’ economies taking a sizeable hit.

And then there is the trouble that Davis and, in particular, Johnson are going to cause May from the backbenches – most likely in a series of unholy alliances with the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Bill Cash.

Brexit is an ideology, Brexit is a con
Johnson’s emotive discourse in his resignation letter is particularly interesting, saying the “dream is dying” (BBC News, 2018c). Brexit as a ‘dream’ end state means Brexit, in Johnson’s head,, is an ideology. Whether Johnson quite believes his own rhetoric is a moot point – after all, ahead of the 2016 referendum he wrote articles both for and against staying in the EU, eventually publishing the latter and putting the former away in a drawer (as reported by Reuters’ Estelle Shirbon later that year). So Johnson may not actually believe in Brexit – certainly not to the extent he says he does – but the super-ambitious RED/orange vMEME harmonic running his head can certainly see that, championing something so many people want so badly, could be a very useful step on his road to power.

And, as so often with ideologues, the costs of fulfilling the dream are minimised – the complexities of the Irish border issue reduced to the simplicity of the London congestion charge (as reported by The Independent’s Joe Watts, 2018a) – or dismissed as unimportant – ‘Fuck business!” (Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times).

(In this sense, Merkel and Macron can also be portrayed as ideologues in their devotion to the single market and the 4 freedoms.)

But, if Brexit is ideology, it is also a con. As hypothesised in How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…, Brexit is one strand of an anti-regulatory movement by the Plutocracy to roll back regulatory frameworks and break up regulatory bodies, in the interests of removing obstacles to ever greater wealth creation for themselves. In the United States, the Trump administration had got rid of 860 Obama-era regulations by October 2017  (reported by the Washington Times’ Sally Persons). In Europe, removing profit-restricting regulations is a harder ask precisely because the EU has a super-national role in business, health & safety, environmental and employment-related regulation. No wonder Rupert Murdoch has stated explicitly he wants to see the EU broken up! (Anthony Hilton, 2016).

Further evidence of the anti-regulatory agenda behind Brexit comes from arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg who, in an astonishingly-unguarded commentary back inDecember 2016, told the Treasury Select Committee the UK  could cut environmental and safety standards “a very long way” once it had left the EU – adding that regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for the UK (reported by The Independent’s Jon Stone, 2016b).  (Rees-Mogg is involved in hedge fund management, capital investment and offshore tax havens; he was estimated by David Oldroyd-Bolt in 2016 to be worth £100M – though this would make him only a member of the Elite, not a true plutocrat, according to Guy Standing, 2014.)

Of course, the plutocrats and their Elite lackeys in the media have capitalised on the disenfranchisement and disempowerment of the traditional white working classes – the so-called ‘left behind’. The right-wing media have encouraged them to blame immigrants for stealing their jobs – the irony being that it’s actually the plutocrats’ transnational corporations which have taken their jobs away, shipping them overseas in search of lower wages and weaker regulation. (See: the New International Division of Labour.) From seeing immigration as the problem, the media extend that to the EU and its insistence on ‘freedom of movement’ which have facilitated immigrants stealing their jobs. While Brexit has been the greatest manifestation of this in Europe (so far), anti-immigrant/anti-EU sentiment has been developed by Elite-sponsored movements and media in Austria, Italy and the Eastern European EU states – and even France and Germany. In the US, anti-immigrant sentiment was manipulated so successfully, Donald Trump, an ostentatiously-wealthy member of the Elite, was elected. In Gravesian terms, this is hideously-unhealthy ORANGE manipulating PURPLE tribalism for its own ends.

This cultivation of nationalism and populism by the plutocrats and their Elite lackeys has now disenfranchised the liberal middle classes and made mockery of expertise and informed opinion. It has produced serious spikes in racism and hate crime and dumbed down political debate to the level of mob rule. When the Daily Mail – under the control of the Elite’s Jonathan Harmsworth (worth £1BN in 2016, according to Brittaney Kiefer) – got away with declaring judges of the Supreme Court ‘Enemies of the People’ in November 2016 because they upheld constitutional law and  attorney general Jeremy Wright would not defend them, that was a clear indication of the norms of a modern democratic state being subverted to an ideology.

 

A divided kingdom
Personally I have never seen the United Kingdom so disunited and bitterly divided as the Brexit issue has led us to become. Not the 1970s industrial disputes culminating in the so-called ‘winter of discontent’…not the Miner’s Strike in the 80s…not the anti-poll tax campaigns (and riots) of the early 90s. Our kingdom is arguably at its most fractious and turned in against itself since World War II.

I myself am a passionate Remainer. For all the reasons outlined in Why Brexit makes Me SO ANGRY!! this is personal. I feel threatened by the economic and social malaise Brexit threatens to hurl us into…a degree of which is already creeping upon us. (Lower than anticipated growth figures, London-based European agencies relocating to the continent, car manufacturers looking to move production, lower inward investment, etc, etc…) I loathe Theresa May for her incompetence and appeasement of the Brexiteers so she can cling to power.  Clearly she is almost totally dominated by the RED vMEME. However, though her reported reluctance to risk the union with Northern Ireland through a hard border – even to the point of standing up to Rees-Mogg in May (Sam Coates et al in The Times) and now the current fudge proposing regulatory alignment on goods but not services- indicates there may be some BLUE still active in her vMEME stack. Likewise, I loathe David Davis for his carefree attitude towards his own incompetence. I  loathe Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, both RED-driven opportunitsts. Johnson for his lies, his malevolent buffoonery and his repeatedly bringing shame on our once-great country; Gove for his reckless dismissal of ‘experts’ and undermining of their informed opinion that Brexit will be  a disaster for the European Union and a catastrophe for the UK

And I loathe Jeremy Corbyn for his sacrificing of the working classes of our kingdom for his long-cherished dream of the UK leaving the EU.

I understand that there is real and visceral hatred of the EU and what it represents amongst a small number of ‘nationalists’ amongst all classes. I understand that many in what could be termed the traditional white working classes have become that ‘left-behind’ as globalisation has taken their jobs overseas – and they resent the EU as a facilitator of globalisation.

I understand only too well that these resentments have been manipulated by the Elite owners of the media in service of the Plutocracy. And I loathe those in the 1% who are so bent on increasing their own wealth that they will manipulate and sacrifice the ordinary people – the ‘little people’ – via the repeal of healthy & safety, employment and environmental protection legislation. I understand that, for them, the EU and its regulations are a key target to be destroyed.

Of course, there is much wrong with the EU that needs to be addressed – as I discussed in Whither the EU..? – but the EU has fulfilled its initial and primary purpose: facilitating peace in Europe – see The REAL Reason for Staying in the EU. I’m with Gordon Brown who made this powerful and passionate video under the title of ‘Lead, Not Leave’…

 

The UK should be one of the  most potent leaders in the EU, helping shape the reforms which are so necessary if the EU is going to continue to bring peace and prosperity to its peoples.

Instead the UK is on its way out in an act of national gross self-harm – an act which will also harm Europe and have detrimental effects right around the world.

The UK itself has become divided into Remainers and Leavers. (Though there are also those who are bored with the whole thing and those who aren’t – and never were – bothered either way.) This is an acting out of Social Identity Theory where simple division into 2 identities lays the seeds for conflict – the in-group/out-group effect. As the post-Brexit economy fails and social divisions widen as resources become more scarce and more expensive, what looks like Social Identity Theory in action is more likely to resemble Realistic Conflict Theory when there really is more to fight about than memes of identity. Expect civil unrest and yet more hate crime and violence as the economy weakens and weakens. At the time of Tony Blair’s departure from government in 2007, the UK was the second richest country in the world by GDP, according to the World Bank. In chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond’s November 2017 budget, he could only estimate the UK to be the sixth biggest economy in the world. Commenting on this for CNN Money, Alanna Petroff attributed the decline almost exclusively to Brexit: “The slide reflects a sharp deceleration in Britain’s economic growth since it voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. The pound has weakened dramatically, consumer spending has slowed and prices have spiked.”

The case for a second referendum
Theresa May has promised Parliament ‘a meaningful say’ on the terms of the final deal – if any – she brings back from Brussels before the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. Quite what ‘a meaningful say’ means, how long before 29 March that ‘say’ would take place and what would happen if Parliament didn’t like the deal appear to be complete unknowns.

But, given just how divided the kingdom is and given the parlous state of the Government, can such a say be left to Parliament?  Should it be left to Parliament?

The decision to leave was made via a referendum Parliament approved as an advisory plebiscite – see below.

 

Via a leaflet sent to every household in the UK, David Cameron’s government advised voters the referendum result would be taken as binding – in violation of what Parliament had approved. Since her assumption to the premiership, Theresa May has indeed treated the referendum result as an instruction, with much talk about fulfilling ‘the will of the people’. In fact, since the the margin to leave was less than 4% on a voter turnout of just over 72%, talk of it being the ‘will of the people’ to leave the EU is spurious in the extreme.

Now we know much more about what Brexit will mean  – and indeed are already experiencing some detrimental effects – would the electorate vote differently if given another referendum?:

Polling expert John Curtice (2018a) advised this February that there does indeed now appear to be a small majority in favour of staying in the EU. More Leavers have changed their minds than have Remainers but the biggest change seems to be amongst those who didn’t vote in 2016. Many of these, now alarmed at the way Brexit seems to be going, have said they would vote to remain if given another chance.

With the kingdom so divided and the Government in a shambles, a sensible way out of the mess would be to have a second referendum, based around the best deal May can get, in good time to reverse Brexit if that were shown to be ‘the will of the people’. (This, of course, does assume May can get some kind of deal.)

Given the continuing and ever more intense Brexit debate, even Nigel Farage has said a second referendum might be necessary! See: Just what is Nigel Farage upto?

Conducting a second referendum
A second referendum should have 4 choices:-

  1.  Accept the deal May has got and leave the EU on those terms
  2. Leave the EU without a deal
  3. Remain in the EU
  4. Remain in the EU with a commitment to reform it from the inside

An ‘alternative vote’ system should be used so that voters can also indicate their second favourite option – so the vote is not a simple either/or choice but is rather more nuanced – hopefully producing rather more nuanced arguments than were made in 2016.  The aim, through such a system, would be to produce at least a 10% gap between the winning option and the next closest option. Such a gap should give a much clearer idea of what ‘the will of the people’ actually is. (A 10% gap should be the minimum bar for making such major constitutional change.)

Of course, if my hypothesis about the plutocrats and their Elite lackeys using Brexit for their deregulatory agendas is correct, then we can expect them to throw everything they’e got at manipulating the vote again.

The Electoral Reform Society’s verdict on the 2016 referendum was ‘dire’, according to The Guardian’s Rajeev Syal. Both sides were found to have made misleading and confusing statements, though it was the Leave campaign who drew the brunt of the report’s criticism. Poor controls enabled the RED of campaigners like Johnson, Gove and Farage – and, to be fair, Remain-supporting then-chancellor George Osborne – to say whatever they thought would carry the day without being accountable for the veracity of their statements.

If a second referendum were to be run, Parliament would need to enact legal safeguards to prevent wildly inaccurate or distorted reports in the media. Equally the campaigns would need daily scrutiny by an independent body – perhaps seconded from the United Nations diplomatic corps who could be perceived to have no vested interest in the outcome of the referendum. False claims would need to be corrected as soon as possible and with maximum publicity. Campaigners would need to face the prospect of being barred from participating if they were found to be guilty of multiple offences. To keep RED in check, strict BLUE-derived rules would need to be enforced with ruthless efficiency.

In the end, if such a referendum produced a convincing Leave vote of 10+%, then Remainers would have to accept that leaving the EU and undoubtedly becoming poorer really was ‘the will of the people’. Hopefully, with a more level playing field – ie: less distorted media influence – and much more information about what Brexit would actually entail, the Remainers could make a convincing argument for staying in the EU.

The result – either way – would always be deeply unsatisfying for the real extremists; but it may well be the only way to bring the majority of people in the UK behind the decision, what ever that might be.

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Overcoming Intractable Elements in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict through Spiral Dynamics https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/overcoming-intractable-elements-in-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-through-spiral-dynamics/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/overcoming-intractable-elements-in-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict-through-spiral-dynamics/#comments Tue, 19 Jun 2018 09:11:26 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=13942 by Neri Bar-on I am honoured to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Neri Bar-on, one of the founders of Integral Israel. He is a professional electronics engineer with degrees from Tel Aviv University in economics and philosophy. He lives in Tel Aviv. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to become more intractable by the day: if anything, in recent years both sides are marked by increasing radicalization. Yet the advent of Donald Trump and his pattern of impatiently shattering paradigms could propel the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian process out of its paralysis. It is an opportunity to introduce the principles of Spiral Dynamics to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, with the goal of forging a new, sustainable system based on both sides making a sober assessment of their real greater good and potential for collaboration. The Spiral Dynamics approach proved helpful before, in advancing collaboration between two seemingly irreconcilable groups in South Africa. The case of Israel and the Palestinians is different but also involves aggrieved people with radically different narratives who are locked in vicious circles of retaliation. Points of origin The strife between Israelis and Palestinians is fanned by their own internal struggles. To oversimplify for the sake of brevity: their internal battles both involve... Read More

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by
Neri Bar-on

I am honoured to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Neri Bar-on, one of the founders of Integral Israel. He is a professional electronics engineer with degrees from Tel Aviv University in economics and philosophy. He lives in Tel Aviv.

Israeli troops firing on surging Palestinian demonstrators, May 2018. Copyright © Mohammed Saber/EPA

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to become more intractable by the day: if anything, in recent years both sides are marked by increasing radicalization. Yet the advent of Donald Trump and his pattern of impatiently shattering paradigms could propel the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian process out of its paralysis. It is an opportunity to introduce the principles of Spiral Dynamics to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, with the goal of forging a new, sustainable system based on both sides making a sober assessment of their real greater good and potential for collaboration.

The Spiral Dynamics approach proved helpful before, in advancing collaboration between two seemingly irreconcilable groups in South Africa. The case of Israel and the Palestinians is different but also involves aggrieved people with radically different narratives who are locked in vicious circles of retaliation.

Points of origin
The strife between Israelis and Palestinians is fanned by their own internal struggles. To oversimplify for the sake of brevity: their internal battles both involve issues of identity, but they are driven by different conflicts within the sets of values of each society. The Israeli and Palestinians systems are not peers in the sense of being directly comparable; their power structures and the world views that sustain the structures are very different.

On the Palestinian side, for instance, there is no consensus on the merits of a peace agreement with Israel: the Oslo Agreements had been signed with Fatah, which is Hamas’ bitter rival in Palestinian politics. Hamas would take the opposing position to Fatah, to provide an alternative: in its case, a more radical one. Israel also has pro and con camps regarding a peace agreement with the Palestinians but they are contained within the political system.

Among the Palestinian communities, tribal values supersede, leading to factionalism and sects within the factions; that in turn impels the form of rule towards monarchism, as is evident in other Arab societies around the Middle East. While the Israeli internal conflict is contained, the conflict between Fatah and Hamas causes deaths; people get thrown off roofs for belonging to the other tribe.

The Palestinian game is zero-sum; the Israeli game is more complicated.

It is true that an Israeli prime minister was murdered over the Oslo Agreements. But that was an aberration and the opponents to the agreement became politically organized and built influence within the democratic political system, even becoming a mainstream political movement in recent years.

Israel is also factionalized, but its system is much more Western, featuring manoeuvring to influence and gain power through non-violent democratic processes, not by killing each other. In Israel, political parties plan conquests of areas and demographics over years. Even the aspiration to annex the Occupied Territories is being pursued through ideological argument, through the modern political system.

Yet as the Israelis and Palestinians, in their different ways, become increasing radicalized, the result is inadvertent, but convenient, collaboration between the radicals on both sides; they feed each other. Israeli acts drive Palestinian despair, driving radicalization and futile suicidal attacks, the fruit of which is radicalization within Israeli society, driving it towards defence and tribalism, which is reflected in the strengthening of the Settlement Movement and the idea of annexing all the territories occupied in 1967.

Israeli snapshot
Over the last 10 years, the Settler Movement has achieved great influence in society and politics and it continues to do so. Just for example, extreme ideas in Israeli social media are becoming mainstream. Killing Arab ‘terrorists’, even when it turns out they were not, has attained the hallmarks of heroism and is lauded on social media. The safety of our soldiers, our children, supersedes all.

Israel clearly holds the upper hand vis-à-vis the Palestinians and can handle any serious threat from that side – but does little to mitigate that threat.

Israel acknowledges the importance of developing the Palestinian economy and helping it develop means to help itself, yet de facto prevents the Palestinians from achieving the capacity to administer themselves properly. Israel controls the reins of the Palestinian economy. It collects tax for the Palestinian government and decides when to hand over that tax; it controls the resources – from freedom of movement to water to raw materials. Yet at the same time, Israel acknowledges that the very lack of abilities on the Palestinian side is one of the barriers to the possibility of achieving any kind of agreement.

Looking forward, sustainable cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians could be achieved through the principles of Spiral Dynamics: by nurturing the Israel’s GREEN aspects, based on its identification with the West where the dominant system is ORANGE-GREEN.

Palestinian snapshot
On top of Israel stifling development by the Palestinians, on top of their having little capacity or ability to govern, the violent conflict between Fatah and Hamas has riven Palestinian society. Hamas runs Gaza by religious government while Fatah runs the West Bank by secular government; their efforts to achieve reconciliation (under a Fatah-led government) have been futile so far. Visiting Gaza in March, the Fatah prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, even had his convoy attacked by roadside bombs. (He survived; later the only thing the Palestinian sides could agree on is that Israel must have done it.) Obviously no agreement can be signed with Israel under these circumstances – who would sign it? And upon whom would it be binding?

Israel can afford for this situation to endure over time; it feels safe and can take the barbs of international criticism. But the situation of the Palestinians, notably in Gaza, is growing worse. They cannot afford for the situation to remain as is. But, instead of acknowledging that they have to achieve some sort of coexistence with Israel, the drift, especially in Hamas, has been increasingly to the extreme, despite being reduced to trying to fight the Israeli army with flaming kites and helium balloons.

The very increase in the Palestinian desperation locks them all the more in areas of PURPLE and RED: the weaker their economy, the more they depend on big-family structures; a person depends on his family and is expected to serve it. Give them elections and the whole family is likely to vote the same way, adding their dead to the voting rosters too, and the result is more factionalism rather than efficiency.

Introduction to the principle of Spiral Dynamics could help the Palestinians develop healthy BLUE aspects to their governance; for instance, in their management of cities and of police forces. (The BLUE aspects existing in religion and in Hamas government are not helpful).

Value memes in the Israeli and Palestinian systems
On the Israeli side, the real threat to a sustainable future is extremists within the system who want to annex the West Bank – not Gaza – who have become part of government. Israelis increasingly trend towards national and Jewish-centric world views, feeding the power of the extremists. Their success has materially changed the conditions of the conflict.

In Israel, the dominant value memes (vMEMES)  in the political arena are GREEN and ORANGE. In Palestine, PURPLE and RED value memes dominate.

Israel lacks integrative governance to manage the GREEN and ORANGE – its political system gets divided into left-right polarization which is intensifying; while the Palestinians lack BLUE elements in their system of governance to manage these forces.

Most people experience the conflict as mere words. They take sides and participate in a blame game. It’s easy for European to see the image of oppression by the Israeli side and bring in a discourse on human rights, and describe events in inappropriately extreme terms – Holocaust, genocide, etc. Meanwhile, the pro-Israeli side justifies the Israeli acts, not seeing another option or alternative and using the same rhetoric of human rights, augmented by historic rights and the direct approval of God.

Any intervention in the conflict must instill healthier attitudes into the inter- and intra- Israeli-Palestinian struggles. Blame must be avoided; the system, with its barriers and complexities, including different interpretations of ‘justice’, must be seen as a whole, in order to actively create opportunities for change. Spiral Dynamics presents a way to find and design useful intervention.

Unequal in  need
The current situation is bleak. The Palestinians have little self-capacity and constrained economic resources. Their day-to-day existence is one of basic survival, at least to some degree, which strengthens the very big-family tribal elements that impede their efforts to consolidate internally. Their conflicts, internal and with Israel, are existential.

Not so for Israel, which has in effect won: it exists as a state and can contain the Palestinian aggression. The life condition of most of the Jewish majority is Western. That very comfort enables nationalist ideas to flourish because society has no reason to strive to reach its next stage; it strives to continue to exist happily as is. There is some drive for transformational change in Israeli society but it is weak: the internal stresses that would advance it are feeble. Meanwhile, PURPLE and BLUE ideas have been gaining traction in society, for better or for worse.

That sense of comfort could change. Potential pitfalls for Israel abound: annexation of the territories could lead to crisis; the deteriorating relationship between Israel and world Jewry could lead to crisis. But, even if it doesn’t change, Israel needs external intervention in its internal conflict, to drive an emergence that frees Israel from its self-imposed shackles, so it can enable Palestinian development and social evolution – and the sooner the better.

Epilogue: the Opportunity posed by Trump
In a way, the advent of Donald Trump as the ‘leader of the free world’ poses a natural opportunity, as he plays chicken with the world, whether as game or strategy. He thinks nothing of changing seemingly immutable status-quos unexpectedly, forcing the other side, once it gets over its shock, to do something new. Witness the Trump administration’s sudden movements vis-à-vis North Korea in June.

By acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moving the embassy there in May 2018 – 2 shocks to the status quo – he earned the trust of the Israeli government, especially on its strong extreme pro-annexation side.

His act also signalled to the Palestinians that the game is up: they can either stop blaming the Israelis for the whole enchilada and start making progress in a new direction, or stand to lose everything – including the incumbent leaders’ own positions of power. If aid dries up, among other things, so will their support.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at the start of their historic summit, 12 June 2018. Copyright © 2018 Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trump’s stated schedule for revealing his ideas for Israeli-Palestinian peace has been delayed. That might be because of preoccupation with North Korea. Or it might be because the Americans have recognized that no deal can be reached between the Israelis and Palestinians by negotiation and, thus, haven’t quite finished putting together the plan they intend to hand down. All other things being equal, on both sides, signing the agreement would require accepting ‘injustice’ that the public, on both sides, has signalled it cannot tolerate; previous attempts at reaching agreements ended in feeding internal conflicts even more. Hopefully, the American plan will include concrete steps to improve the Palestinian economy and to assuage Israel’s perennial security concerns. But if anybody can shove through an agreement that doesn’t purport to be just, it’s Trump.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians cannot afford to lose any support. The Gazan economy, for one, is almost entirely dependent on external aid. Yet so far the current Palestinian leadership seems more devoted to preserving their own power than any overarching Palestinian good; hence no one seems likely to persuade the Palestinian people to embark on a new road to a new reality. The Palestinians seem to lack the social capacity necessary to build the political structure for functional governance.

Trump is not a YELLOW leader. This is not the place for discussion of his vMEME stack. But in his incessant game of chicken, he thinks things are done by roaring towards the brink and refuses to get bogged down in minutiae such as who did what, when, why. He forces the other to hastily get organized and take action. He could wind up being good for the Palestinians by forcing the elements in society capable of developing a functional government to wake up.

Israelis are sober enough to know that, based on Trump’s own declarations, they will have to give up dreams of wholesale annexation, and certainly building the third temple. This acknowledgement has not arrived yet. But, if the United States and Europe can press Israel, Israel has the capacity to adjust and accept change in the Palestinian-Israeli relationship and a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories. Maybe even a Jerusalem Palestinian capital.

Change will require Israelis and Palestinians to rise above their own world-views. The Palestinians need to believe they could have better lives in a modern society that is not in constant violent conflict with an immensely stronger power. For the Israelis the situation is more complicated because they have more to lose. However, being part of the Western world and having a life of prosperity and development, rather than a life on the edge of a sword, has its attractions.

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Tom Christensen : a Tribute https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/tom-christensen-a-tribute/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/tom-christensen-a-tribute/#comments Tue, 01 May 2018 11:55:34 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=13636 I’d barely been back in the UK 24 hours – following my participation in the wonderful Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future in Dallas when I learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Tom Christensen on 23 April. To say I was shocked and saddened would be quite an understatement. To my knowledge, Tom didn’t have a serious/terminal illness and he was only 4-5 years older than me. I believe Tom’s last comments on Facebook were less than a couple of days before his passing was announced. I had been emailing with Tom and also exchanging views with him via the Spiral Dynamics integral elist and Facebook groups for several years. He was a staunch advocate of the Gravesian approach and was a well-known and well-respected contributor to a number of Integral forums. We first started emailing directly in January 2013. Looking back on those first posts, when he had just (sort-of) retired and was in a very what’s next mode, he was infused with a passion for Graves and was like a sponge absorbing and mapping anything to do with Graves and complementary theory and research. He was particularly interested in exploring consciousness and cognitive complexity in relationship to the Gravesian approach. He had already... Read More

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I’d barely been back in the UK 24 hours – following my participation in the wonderful Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future in Dallas when I learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Tom Christensen on 23 April. To say I was shocked and saddened would be quite an understatement. To my knowledge, Tom didn’t have a serious/terminal illness and he was only 4-5 years older than me. I believe Tom’s last comments on Facebook were less than a couple of days before his passing was announced.

I had been emailing with Tom and also exchanging views with him via the Spiral Dynamics integral elist and Facebook groups for several years. He was a staunch advocate of the Gravesian approach and was a well-known and well-respected contributor to a number of Integral forums.

Tom, 2012

We first started emailing directly in January 2013. Looking back on those first posts, when he had just (sort-of) retired and was in a very what’s next mode, he was infused with a passion for Graves and was like a sponge absorbing and mapping anything to do with Graves and complementary theory and research. He was particularly interested in exploring consciousness and cognitive complexity in relationship to the Gravesian approach. He had already had a thought-provoking piece along these lines, Game is Over. You are Enlightened, published in Integral Leadership Review (ILR).

The books
Tom was involved in the early discussions to found the Centre of Human Emergence USA but became increasingly concerned with the need to build a body of knowledge that could survive the inevitable passing of Spiral Dynamics co-developers Don Beck & Chris Cowan.  He conceived compiling a compendium of case studies using the Gravesian approach and in Summer 2013 began approaching leading practitioners to solicit contributions.

While the late Russ Volkmann (of ILR) was interested in publishing what Tom tentatively thought of as ‘SDi Applied’, the initial dearth of responses from practitioners was discouraging; and Tom was on the verge of abandoning the concept in favour of a book on coaching with Ann Roberts, a coach from Scotland he had trained online in the Gravesian approach. I encouraged Tom to persist and was one of the first to submit draft articles to him. It’s a measure of Tom’s vision, his integrity and his persistence that he eventually marshalled contributions from so many great Gravesian practitioners such as Said E Dawlabani, the late John CookFred KrawchukJim LockardAnne-Marie VoorhoeveChristopher CookeBarbara N BrownJon FreemanBjarni Snæbjörn JónssonLaura Frey HornBruce L GibbMarilyn Hamilton and Elza Maalouf.

At one stage Tom and Russ thought they might have enough material for 3 compendiums. I have several emails from Tom groaning about the amount of work involved in sorting, sifting and editing! In the end Tom and Russ published 2 volumes: Developmental Innovation: Emerging Worldviews and Individual Learning (Integral Publishers, August 2015) and Innovative Development: Emerging Worldviews and Systems Change (Integral Publishers, August 2015). My contributions, Lives on the Spiral and The Use of SDi in Psychotherapy, were in the former.

It’s little known; but, after discussing it with me, Tom even reached out to Chris Cowan and his partner  Natasha Todorovic – long estranged from Don Beck – endeavouring to draw them into the project and hoping to heal some of the wounds around the Beck-Cowan split. Unfortunately he was roundly rebuffed – “I did contact Cowan, and ‘mellow’ doesn’t fit him in any way. Dead end.” (I had warned Tom that Chris could be notoriously prickly!) (In the same email (30/09/13) Tom told me that Ken Wilber hadn’t responded to an invitation to contribute.) According to a Facebook comment by Said E Dawlabani (26/04/18), there had been at least one more  approach by Tom to the Cowan-Todorovic camp in the Summer of 2015; but that was again rebuffed: “He reported to me that Natasha was quite resistant to the idea (far more severe language describing her reaction that can’t be published here). I can only imagine that Tom’s request came at a time when Natasha was personally overwhelmed in dealing with Chris’ illness.” Cowan passed away that July – see Fare Thee Well, Christopher Cowan!

Also. in September 2013, relations began to deteriorate between Tom and Don Beck, primarily around the role Tom wished Don to play with regards to the ‘SDi Applied’ project. In February 2015 they broke contact formally, resulting in the books being re-titled just before publication. Later, however, Don did offer to promote the books at the Integral Conference that July. (Although not in the compendiums’ titles, the terms ‘Spiral Dynamics integral’ and ‘SDi’ are used consistently throughout the texts.)

Tom set up the Third Generation Gravesians website to promote the books and Gravesian-oriented thinking and projects in general.

In some ways his compendiums are a precursor to Don Beck et al’s brand new Spiral Dynamics in Action book.

“I am done with Graves”
In August 2016 Tom made this startling announcement in a ’round robin’ email – not that he was abandoning Graves totally; but rather putting him “on the shelf, and only the proper Life Conditions 🙂 , will bring him down.”

Tom, 2017

Truth to tell, I was disappointed but not entirely surprised. (I have been through my own disappointments with the ‘Spiral Dynamics constellation’.) At the beginning of the year Tom had told me (email 02/01/16): “No one is calling, emailing, or sending couriers to shackle me and present me at the King’s court to share my valuable findings. In fact, besides the 3 or 4 comments I have received, I don’t know that anyone even knows the books came out….authors included. This could evidence a huge shortcoming in humanity. Alas, I think not. Its simply, that humans are still not ready for the level of complexity needed to appreciate, and apply Graves.”

Clearly Tom expected more from the books – and the ‘Spiral Dynamics constellation’ – than he got. He was also sorely tested by the interactions with Beck and Cowan, telling me these things “do hurt, but I make that a teaching as best I can” (email 15/07/15).

Tom, of course, continued to comment from a Gravesian perspective on Facebook and other forums but focused perhaps more in pursuit of understanding consciousness and cognitive complexity.

Tom was generous enough to acknowledge that my own book, Knowing Me Knowing You, had enabled him to understand temperamental dimensions more and even resolve some of the niggles in his relationships with wife Stephanie and their families and friends.

Tom kept talking throughout 2015-2016 about coming to the UK and meeting up. He wanted us to jam together – me on bass and him on keyboard preferably – or guitar if no keyboard available. In the event it didn’t happen…and now it never will.  The last email communication between us was in December last year. As ever, he was in the throes of learning and recommending reading to me.

Tom’s passing is a loss not just to his family and the ‘Gravesian community’ but to humanity as a whole. At the risk of sounding trite, they don’t come much better.

Jon Freeman’s comment on Facebook (26/04/18) – published here with Jon’s permission – perhaps best sums up the spirit of Tom Christensen:-

“Tom Christensen was a lovely human being and a generous warm-hearted friend. His work on the book was a labour of love for everything Gravesian and in earlier times he was very supportive of Don’s work.

The books were published in 2015 at the end of a 2-year gestation and it seems unlikely to me that Chris Cowan’s illness played any part in the responses from that quarter. The bitterness was old and deep.

Tom was a multi-faceted individual – a businessman, a graphic artist and latterly making his poetry visible too. Since the book, Tom became increasingly philosophical and oriented towards the nature of oneness and our experience of it, and how that related to the Graves paradigm. He was an enquirer, a seeker and always curious about all levels of our human experience. Those of us who shared the regular global CHE conversations with him could always expect deep, stimulating and interesting questions and I will miss him for that too. I am sad to see him go, and shocked that he has gone so soon, but I don’t think that I know of anyone who has been better prepared for the transition – whatever he may now be discovering about that.”

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Just what is Nigel Farage up to? https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/just-nigel-farage/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2018/just-nigel-farage/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:23:45 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=12792 Well, one glance at the papers over the past few days and it’s pretty clear that Nigel Farage is back in a big way. He’s rather grandly attempting to shape the Brexit debate, reinvigorate –  if not relaunch – the Leave campaign and position himself as the Great Saviour of the referendum result of 23 June 2016. Not that Farage has ever exactly gone away; but his credibility as an influential politician has been in steady but sure decline for over a year. He may have been the first foreign politician to visit Donald Trump following his election; but, as reported by commentators such as The Independent’s Joe Watts (2016) any hope Farage had that Theresa May might use him as go-between with Trump were swiftly dashed by Downing Street. Then there was the disastrous endorsement of far-right Republican Ray Moore in the Autumn 2017 campaign for one of Alabama’s Senate seats. Not only did Moore lose the election in large part due to serious allegations of sexual assault but Farage foolishly defended Moore against the allegations – as reported by The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe (2017a). Perhaps the nadir of Farage’s post-referendum political life was last Monday 8th’s meeting with EU chief... Read More

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Well, one glance at the papers over the past few days and it’s pretty clear that Nigel Farage is back in a big way. He’s rather grandly attempting to shape the Brexit debate, reinvigorate –  if not relaunch – the Leave campaign and position himself as the Great Saviour of the referendum result of 23 June 2016.

Not that Farage has ever exactly gone away; but his credibility as an influential politician has been in steady but sure decline for over a year. He may have been the first foreign politician to visit Donald Trump following his election; but, as reported by commentators such as The Independent’s Joe Watts (2016) any hope Farage had that Theresa May might use him as go-between with Trump were swiftly dashed by Downing Street.

Then there was the disastrous endorsement of far-right Republican Ray Moore in the Autumn 2017 campaign for one of Alabama’s Senate seats. Not only did Moore lose the election in large part due to serious allegations of sexual assault but Farage foolishly defended Moore against the allegations – as reported by The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe (2017a).

Perhaps the nadir of Farage’s post-referendum political life was last Monday 8th’s meeting with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Despite Farage’s best efforts, the reports there were of this non-event meeting were relegated to the inside pages of the papers and mostly below the top stories on the TV news broadcasts.

As The Independent’s Marina Hyde wryly commented: “…as the past year has shown, Nigel Farage is absolutely lost. It’s been a long time since the gold lift picture. You can’t dine out for ever on dining out once with Trump.”

Donald Trump and Nigel Farage in the gold elevator at Trump Towers, November 2016. [Copyright © 2016 Nigel Farage]

From a Gravesian perspective Farage is dominated in his political life by a RED/BLUE vMEME harmonic, making him a zealot. A zealot without something to be zealous about is indeed ‘lost’, in Hyde’s words. After giving more than 20 years to the cause of leaving the EU, what else was there for Farage to do once the Government had triggered Article 50…?

Yet just 3 days after the Barnier meeting, Farage made his astonishing assertion on Channel 5’s The Wight Stuff – see video below – that he was coming around to the idea of a second referendum on membership of the EU.

Instantly, he was back on the front pages and TV headline news.

So, just what is Farage up to? In and amongst the deluge of analysis which has followed that remarkable broadcast, it’s helpful to take some sociopsychological views on what is happening.

Farage the impulsive man?
Farage may well be high in the temperamental dimension of Psychoticism. He certainly displays the impulsiveness and compulsiveness associated with high Psychoticism – not to mention the sexual predator tendencies that go with it! (He’s been reported by the Daily Telegraph’s Georgia Graham (2014) to “have a weakness for women” while Hugo Gye in The Sun (2017) has revealed that 2 mistresses competed with his wife to be at his bedside after his plane crashed during the 2010 election!)

So, if he is high in Psychoticism, it would be characteristic of Farage to impulsively state something without necessarily having thought it through – especially if the zealot in him were aroused, giving him a RED-psychoticist centre of gravity, excelling in the moment without thought of consequences.

Clearly, from his comment on The Wright Stuff, Farage was irked by Tony Blair’s latest attempt to derail Brexit by making the case for a second referendum – as reported by the likes of the Daily Telegraph’s Steven Swinford. So his sudden apparent near-conversion to a second referendum, with the threat to “just finish the whole thing [resistance to Brexit] off”, may have been the kind of bring-it-on invitation to a fight that is typical of thoughtless and impulsive Psychoticism when threatened.

The comments of Diane James, briefly Farage’s successor as UKIP leader on the Thursday (11th) evening edition of BBC’s Newsnight – see video below – are more than a little interesting.

James makes no bones about UKIP being surprised – if not taken aback – by Farage’s comments. Then she  says he’s “got form” for “outrageous statements”, effectively belittling him as not to be taken too seriously. However, she then uses empathising with his “frustration” as the starter to make her own complaints about Remainers.

Very clever! You could almost see UKIP beginning to handle the situation and creating a sense of bringing Farage under control. BLUE and ORANGE, with the slightest hint of GREEN, were moving to wrap charismatic Farage back up in the party machine.

The next day Farage wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “To be clear, I do not want a second referendum, but I fear one may be forced upon the country by Parliament. That is how deep my distrust is for career politicians. This poses a big question for Leavers. Do we stick with the view that the result will stand or acknowledge the fact that we face this potential threat?”

By the time of Sunday’s Observer, Toby Helm & Michael Savage were reporting Farage as blasting the poor state of the near-dormant Leave campaign: “There is no Leave campaign. I think Leave is in danger of not even making the argument…. The Remain side is making all the running. They have a majority in Parliament and, unless we get ourselves organised, we could lose the historic victory that was Brexit.”

It looks like Mr Impulsive had been tamed, rehoned and refocussed to get the Brexiteers back to work and moving the Brexit debate away from the centre and the discussion around what kind of ‘soft’ Brexit could be achieved. With Farage and UKIP back in business, there could be more of a move towards a ‘hard’ and fast Brexit.

Interestingly Alex McNamara from TLE has this comment on Farage’s headline grabbing statement: “UKIP have now become laughable and insignificant, practically erased from the British political map. At the same time, the Tories would never take Farage in either. If he’s to have any sort of future career, or to stay relevant in Britain, or if UKIP are to make a comeback, the hot-headed debate must continue.”

Also, it’s an unlikely coincidence that Farage has re-emerged in such a formidable manner at the end of the very week current UKIP leader Henry Bolton – largely seen as ineffective – has been under intense pressure to resign over his partner sending racist texts about Meghan Markle (BBC, 2018a). Bolton stepping down now would be perfect timing for Farage to resume his role as the uncrowned king of UKIP.

Manipulation by the Plutocracy?
if the above sounds almost like a conspiracy theory, then we have to remember who Farage is really working for: the Plutocracy.

As outlined in How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats…, the Plutocracy – Guy Standing’s (2009) term for the super-rich 1% – dominated by unhealthy ORANGE, are extending their control of the world through their elitist lackeys working against the BLUE-driven bureaucracies whose rules and regulations constrain their otherwise unrestricted profit-making-at-all-costs. The hard right-wing crusade against the European Union is a part of this ‘war’ and Brexit a key strategy to starting the dissemblement of this regulation-heavy institution. Farage and UKIP were critical to the success of the Brexit strategy in the referendum.

Unfortunately for the plutocrats, Brexit has not been going well. Led by Barnier and Angela Merkel, the bureaucrats have played hardball and consistently outplayed Theresa May’s Brexit team fronted by the jovial but amazingly-unspectacular David Davis. Along with the EU’s hardball, the plunge in sterling, the flight (and further threatened flight) of top agencies, bank sections and capital – not to mention Liam Fox’s total failure to rustle up even a whisper of a post-EU trade deal – has made the UK’s position in the negotiations incredibly weak. The result has been that May has made some concessions towards a softer Brexit while simply getting in an apparently-unresolvable muddle over issues like the Irish border.

Only the dogged insistence of Jeremy Corbyn – a zealot of a different kind –  that the UK should leave the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union – in a clear policy division with Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer – has arguably prevented the Brexit process from being even more stalled than it is. However, with Labour’s Chuka Umunna building a cross-party anti-Brexit group with Tory rebels like Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry and the House of Lords very pro-Remain, May is having (and going to have) major problems getting her Brexit legislation through without rebellions and/or amendments. Beyond Parliament the likes of A C Grayling and Gina Miller are just some of the leading figures involved in legal challenges to Brexit, according to HuffPost’s Richard Bird.

No wonder Farage is irked and the plutocrats all too ready to use him, UKIP and, undoubtedly, their elitist media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay Brothers to get their anti-EU machine firing on all cylinders again. When Farage made his extraordinary statement last Thursday, with hours his billionaire backer Aaron Banks was tweeting his support. The Plutocracy and their elitist lackeys knew they had to get Farage on board but focussed on what they wanted him to be attacking.

Controlling an impulsive loose cannon like Farage is, of course, no easy task but they’ve done it before and no doubt they will do it again.

In the coming weeks it will be no surprise to see Farage resume leadership of UKIP and the like of the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Daily Express increase coverage of the Brexit debate and express increased vitriol towards both Remainers and the EU.

The tragedy in all this is that, as Abraham Maslow (1971) said, “Any transcender [TURQUOISE thinker] could sit down and in five minutes write a recipe for peace, brotherhood, and happiness, a recipe absolutely within the bounds of practicality, absolutely attainable.” Yet there is little or no observable 2nd Tier thinking in UK politics to see that, yes, the EU needs serious reform – as I discussed in Whither the EU..? – but the UK should be leading that reform, not walking out into political, social and economic obscurity. Perhaps, if Chuka Umunna can create a genuine cross-party understanding that transcends party loyalties in the national interest AND can see how to create a buy-in for moderate Brexiteers, then maybe there might be some hope for more complex thinking amongst our decidedly partisan and simplistic-thinking politicians.

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Online Censorship: where do we draw the Line? https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2017/online-censorship-where-do-we-draw-the-line/ https://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/2017/online-censorship-where-do-we-draw-the-line/#comments Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:11:41 +0000 http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/?p=11328 by Carla White  I am delighted to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Carla White. Carla is an experienced writer and blogger who describes herself as “passionate about looking deeper into the world around us”. She writes ‘alternative’ news posts for numerous websites and also has experience running and maintaining websites. She says: “You can always find me at my laptop, with a cup of coffee!” You can email Carla to find out more about her work. Social conditioning has a considerable effect on crime. It was Émile Durkheim who first noted the existence of a values consensus when, in 1893, he wrote about a collective consciousness that defines societal norms and makes certain acts unthinkable to conforming citizens. This idea is one regularly used by governments as justification for censorship. By reiterating the taboo nature of certain topics, they hope to reduce mass indulgence in these things. Admittedly, this tactic has seen success. Child pornography, bestiality and cold-blooded murder are just some examples of topics that incite shock and terror in the hearts of most. However, whenever information is restricted on a national scale, an ethical question is raised. At what point does information control become an active manipulation of the collective conscience? A brief... Read More

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by
Carla White

 I am delighted to publish this ‘guest blog’ by Carla White. Carla is an experienced writer and blogger who describes herself as “passionate about looking deeper into the world around us”. She writes ‘alternative’ news posts for numerous websites and also has experience running and maintaining websites. She says: “You can always find me at my laptop, with a cup of coffee!” You can email Carla to find out more about her work.

Social conditioning has a considerable effect on crime. It was Émile Durkheim who first noted the existence of a values consensus when, in 1893, he wrote about a collective consciousness that defines societal norms and makes certain acts unthinkable to conforming citizens.

This idea is one regularly used by governments as justification for censorship. By reiterating the taboo nature of certain topics, they hope to reduce mass indulgence in these things. Admittedly, this tactic has seen success. Child pornography, bestiality and cold-blooded murder are just some examples of topics that incite shock and terror in the hearts of most. However, whenever information is restricted on a national scale, an ethical question is raised. At what point does information control become an active manipulation of the collective conscience?

A brief history of censorship
The existence of censorship for social control is as ancient as society itself. During the Greek era, now-famed philosophers fought to have their ideas heard. For example, in 399, Socrates was sentenced to death for continuing to teach his banned works, and this is not the only example of now-classical ideas falling victims to censors. In 1565, the nude figures of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel masterpiece were given loincloths to pacify the outraged religious parties. More recently, as chronicled by the likes of The History Place (2001), Nazi Germany ceremoniously destroyed thousands of books they deemed ‘unGerman’.

Nazi book burning, May 1933

This clear fear of alternative cultural memes is evident throughout history. The risk of an individual’s schemas affecting and changing the status quo has long been seen as a threat to authority. The ongoing attempts to quell free speech are essential in guiding the public to conform to their particular nation state’s paradigm of thought. In essence, censorship happens to ensure the existing established culture is not questioned.

Censorship in 2017
This sort of propagandist activity may seem outdated in the modern world. For most, strict censorship harks back to the era of Joseph Stalin, Nazi Germany and other fascist political systems. However, the practice is still as prolific as ever, although it largely exists in more covert forms.

One of the most prolific examples of this is the censorship of online media. In some countries, the restrictions are so tight that natives only see an incredibly limited amount of information. For example, North Korean nationals only have access to an ‘intranet’, which is run from government servers with content created and approved by authorities. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and China, allow international website access but block thousands of individual sites on political or religious grounds.

However, these known ‘enemies of the internet’ are not the only national governments engaging in censorship. Because the World Wide Web is such a vast and seemingly endless domain, many countries create blacklists their citizens don’t even know exist. As we continue to face down terrorist threats, the number of blocked websites is increasing significantly (IFEX, 2012).

Further still, targeted advertising is another culprit that heavily restricts our media experience. Already active on most web browsers, websites and even some TV boxes, this new marketing strategy determines what ads you see via a pre-created profile of you and/or your household.

With endless theorem to surround the psychological effect of censorship – eg: Seva Gunitsky (2015) – the ethical dialogue surrounding the issue is far from over, especially since this attack on information only furthers the plutocrats move for media monopoly and, subsequently, collective thought-control.

Reciprocal Determinism and the internet
Considering the effect of environmental factors in regards to the model of Reciprocal Determinism, it is clear any level of media restriction will affect environmental feedback for individuals.

Reciprocal Determinism states that our environment, our behaviour and our emotional responses are all interconnected and dependent on each other. If we receive favourable feedback from a situation, then we will continue to act and behave in a specific way. This model is particularly poignant when considering censorship.

As much of our life moves online, our social influences also digitalise. Because of this, our environmental feedback is largely dictated by websites, sharing platforms and social media. However, as the government, advertisers or individual service providers decide most of the online content, our reactions are not an accurate representation of our cognitive responses to the world.

This phenomenon was recently brought to light during the post-election outcry in the United States, as many believed the result did not reflect their social media feeds. It was later revealed by Forbes’ Nelson Granados (among others) that the Facebook algorithm is tailored in such a way that the posts you see are more likely to be from those who share your opinions.

The influence of vMEMES
Knowing the effect of restricting media, it’s hard to see a justification for censorship. However, those on both sides of the fence provide legitimate justifications for their opinions. While it’s true restricting information dictates our social education and, therefore, our mind state, it is also valid that the government needs the power to quash potentially destructive ideas.

The security vs privacy debate is one that is evident in many ethical discussions. Where we decide to draw the line is dependent on vMEMES. This mode of calculating motivations works on the Gravesian model that defines our personal values system. So, for example, while a GREEN view would proclaim that everybody should have access to all information, an ORANGE mindset will believe in publicising content for their gain. The latter provides reasoning for the current government system; they censor online content that isn’t aligned with their chosen social paradigm.

Considering this, it’s clear a universal agreement on online censorship is impossible. However, there are ways to incorporate all opinions. For example, the use of virtual private networks (VPNS) or proxy software allows users to bypass these restrictions and access blocked sites. It is becoming a regularly employed tactic for those with a GREEN mindset, particularly when accessing geo-blocked media outlets, such as Netflix or YouTube. (An example sample of of VPNs for accessing Netflix is available from Lyndon Seitz here.) While some countries have banned the use, others are more tolerant – thus creating a freedom loophole for those who want it. Another option would be a required government list of all blocked sites, allowing citizens to keep track of the imposed social control.

While censorship may be straightforward as a political tactic, its sociopsychological ramifications are much more complex. It’s essential this discussion continues so that ethical boundaries can be established and lawmakers can be awakened to the consequences of their decisions.

The post Online Censorship: where do we draw the Line? appeared first on Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages.

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