24. Populism

Populism is a political movement that favours the common person usually against an elite. It has no leaning to left or right but is usually anti business and its supporting institutions. In modern history it is linked with an authoritarian form of politics led by a charasmatic leader. This leader has a clever short message to bolster his own power through the will of the people. Pandering to the people’s fears and insecurities by focusing on one section of the population as a scapegoat.

It is a way of the people making a complaint against its institutions and systems. Cleverly the agenda is to increase the power of the leader by seeming to address the problem without addressing it. The scapegoat is blamed, while the underlying problem remains unresolved. Usually due its complexity and weight.

To see Brexit in this light. The leader, the scapegoat, the underlying issue which is not resolved. Who knows yet? Immigrants allowed in by the EU, market forces & neo liberalism. So create a leader with a short message
(on the bus), promise a return to an older time (with no immigrants!), leaving the problem of market forces untouched (but still providing profit for the leader and party)

A clever trick which works everytime. With a little help from the elite (EU) who did little to appease its population of the idea of waste, gravy train, and a lack of transparency. As ever groups of humans do nothing, hold on, until a crisis they are forced to change.

In the UK the elite is grown by a medieval system of private education. An elite form of brain washing creating and promoting an elite system including Parliament. What goes around comes around.

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23. Alan Lomax

Alan Lomax made a life of recording and archiving american folk music in the United States.
He promotde the world’s folk music, for over 60 years. He completed his degree at the University of Texas in 1936.
He said “The main point of my activity, was… to put sound technology at the disposal of The Folk, to bring channels of communication to all sorts of artists and areas.”

Lomax interviewed Lead Belly which encouraged him to explore oral biography.
His conversations with leading jazz players spawned several books. Lomax recorded on film interviews and music.

In the hill country of Mississippi, he recorded styles of music close to their African roots. As a result he interviewed and recorded 29-year-old singer and guitarist McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters.
He then started to record music in state prisons which he thought were some of the best music he had ever recorded.
A sad indictment on race and incarceration.
Alan Lomax: A man, and a life with one task.

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22. Disappointment

Disappointment is a common emotion when people let us down. Family and friends are supposed to alleviate our suffering. Before we know what our suffering is. As children our parents have to guess our likes and dislikes without us being able to communicate in words what they are.

Parents become so practiced at this, that we think they know us so well that we don’t have to explain to them what we want. Part of the fall from grace of parents is when children become adults and realise that they are not as unknown as thier parents are.

In Psychonanalysis as in any relationship when someone is disappointed in us, we immediately want to relieve their disappointment in us. We try and behave, do better, but the disappointment is sown. To sit with the disappointment of the other is hard work.
If we manage this it becomes more about the thwarted expectations of the other person. These expectations are motivated by values and thoughts planted in us early in our lives. We inherent them with little choice or influence. The adult life is to sort and muse on what we were given without our permission or reason.
The luck or unluck of the draw.

 

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21. Indifference

Indifference – so you’re not important. Millenials born in the 1980s/1990s depending on who you believe. In the 1990s the West created a generation of children who were told they were special, unique. The self esteem movement peddled ‘mollycoddling’ encouraging emotionally fragile adults who cannot take criticism. Also contributing to extreme political correctness.

To balance our own self importance expressed by the millenial generation we might do better to practice indifference on ourselves. Indifference the opposite of love?

To keep ourselves in check we might think of ourselves and our struggles as similar to everyone else’s. When we struggle. Everyone else struggles. You are not different. The philosophical practice of humilty. Instead of zooming in on ourselves: we could zoom out. To witness others and their struggles along side our own.

Humility doesn’t focus on our flaws but doesn’t really focus on ourselves at all. We are worthy of love but so is everyone else. Stop obsessing over yourself. You are not that big of a deal.

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20. Emotional Pain

Scientists discover that humans feel no difference between a broken bone and an aching heart. In this experiment social emotional pain is collected by the experience of social rejection by others.

Peer rejection was felt the most keenly, then academic and romantic rejection. Rejection is most felt in poverty, and lower economic status: An implicit constant message of exclusion. The game of economic status can never be won. There is always someone abobe and below you. Status is a moving target where success can always be seen as failiure.

Scientists discover that humans feel emotional pain like physical pain. No difference between a broken bone and an aching heart. In this experiment social exclusion equals social pain.

“What is identity but the slow, lifelong accretion of gazes: us looking at ourselves being looked at by others?”

The more rejection, the more social exclusion and social pain is felt. The scientists were surprised when a person is subjected to social exclusion they become more aggressive and care less about other people. In fact they stopped feeling upset and start to feel numb.

 



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19. Pentimento

Pentimento is the Italian word for the artist’s method of experimenting with painting different versions of the composition.  In other words the painter tried their idea out, didn’t like it, then eventually covered it up with the final version.

Like takes in the music recording process. Nobody would be surprised at several takes before the artist was satisfied with the sound. Or the first take being the most pure and original.

The Mona Lisa for example has another face and smile covered up under the layers of paint as Da Vinci was trying out his ideas. What is exciting for us in the 21st Century version of life having to put a value on everything: Pentimento proves authenticity. Why would a copy copy the different versions and experiments of a painting? The copier would not have this knowledge of how the painting was created.

Another way of seeing people? We all have our social face to the world. But under the layers of personality, experiments, and trying out different ways of living life other personailities emerge. Related, similar but also different constantly contributing to what we call me.
Pentimento

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18. Bad Tribalism

Bad Tribalism is the idea that our lack of experience of others prevents us from emapthising with them. A study of brain activity where participants witnessed different colour hands were pricked with a needle to cause pain. The more similar skin colour illicited more empathy. Difference less empathy. Empathy is biased.

Definitions differ but the outcome of empathy is always where we act more kindly towards the person.
As ever empathy is learnt at an early age, set down in family and childhood. So our own personal empathy has to be challenged. To be empathetic we have to be open to others’ experience however different from our own.

Emotions can be overwhelming and dominate us. Men are conditioned not to have emotions. So empathy is avoided. Bad Tribalism is allowed to grow. We have to appreciate what other peoples’ lives involve. What are their struggles? What is their pain? If our paths never cross this means that there is no shared experience or understanding.
Being empathetic takes effort.

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17. Grenfell Notre Dame

Grenfell Notre Dame 
Notre Dame has quickly raised far more money for its rebuild, than for the tragedy of deaths in the Grenfell Tower. The majority of the money raised for Grenfell was donated by the UK population. For Notre Dame the money came from billionaires. The UK Government offered the French help and to ring the Westminster Abbey bells in solidarity.

At face value this is blatant prejudice against a poor section of the community. People in power with money have no interest or care about the people of Grenfell. This is the result of a classist heirarchical country of haves and have nots. Time is money. Profit is the goal.

Yet 72 people lost their lives. In the UK. In London. From a fire in a building not adequately fire protected. We are all culpable as we live here. It was in our country. It was avoidable. There is a collective guilt which we cannot escape from. A pain, a hurt that others suffered and died in our home.

They were innocent like we are. We did not build Grenfell. But we are all at risk of buildings, transport and infrastructure being under funded, and possibly unsafe. Accidents can happen. We are all at risk. It could have been us. This causes us bad feelings. Which we want to deny, repress and escape from. We are humans and wired to avoid pain.

So Notre Dame where nobody died, is undeniably a building of great beauty. We mourn its loss, as it is a safer object/symbol we can project our pain and loss onto. It mainfests feelings of history, of pride of nationhood. We are in control of what it symbolises for us. Some thing or nothing. It is a pain in our control. It is not a person with the complexity of a story of a life, a childhood, a family. It is not messy. It has a simple beauty of a building. Three dimensional. Not multi complex. Not flawed. Not rich or poor. Bricks and glass. It can be rebuilt. Ironically it was waiting to happen. Under funded and needing renovation when at most risk of fire.

The other ugly thought is that art comes before people? Do we rate Michelangelo above other humans for what he created? Would we trade a hundred stone labourers for one artistic sculpter genius? Do some humans have more value than others? A taboo to admit to thinking like this?
Grenfell Notre Dame

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16. Edward Bernays

If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it”

…. so said Edward Bernays, pioneer of public relations and propoganda. Also nephew of Sigmund Freud. His most famous campaign Torches of Freedom encouraged women to smoke a feminist brand of cigarettes.

His philosophy was of a utopian society where humans’ dangerous energies could be harnessed by the corporate elite to make profit. The idea was that society’s dark side could be redirected to save society from itself. Bernays used the principles of psychoanalysis and the unconscious to manipulate the mind. Like hypnosis the hypnotised person doesn’t know they have been hypnotised.

Another family member Anna Freud was intent on figuring out how the Nazis were capable of what they did. She wanted to control chaos so that it wouldn’t happen again. She believed that society’s irrational behaviour was created by the repression of childhood trauma. If members of the society could follow the rules: chaotic behaviour could be supressed.

Bernays used the fear of communism as a powerful weapon to control the the public in the cold war. He also thought that people in the society needed help for their own good by a “capable few”.

Freud himself turned down his nephew’s schemes of promotion of his own work. Perhaps he realised that there were two sides of his creation – psychoananlysis. Light and Dark.

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15. Good Samaritan

Bystander Apathy is a social psychological theory that has remained unchallenged for over 50 years. So briefly it says that we are less likely to intervene in a crime or assault in a public space the more people are present as witnesses.

Science trying to reduce complexity to a simple statement? As ever reality is more tricky. In modern bystander research – personalities and the default reaction to trauma play a significant role. Humans are more reflexive and unconscious. In other words they experience Fight, Flight or Freeze.
Personal. Individual. Historical!
So bystanders with more empathy (nurtured in personal histories) were more liable to intervene than bystanders with low empathy.

What is astounding is that this theory has remained unchallenged until recently. Is research not capable of studying complex human behaviour? Does personal history not play a part in trying to evaulate human behaviour? Are we still trying to squeeze human behaviour into simple predictable universal reactions? How has research ignored unique individual human behaviour for so long? Resistance? Resistance to what? Complexity v. Simplicity?
Good Samaritan

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