Friday, March 20, 2015

Psychology of the Ruling Class, White Collar Tyranny

Those in power now seem to be behaving in a manner that has little or no regard for the best interest of the vast majority of the public. They are trying to minimize or eliminate any regulation that protects the environment, consumer, worker or anything that interferes with the profits of the ruling class. They have been fighting one war after another based on claims that have been routinely proven to be false. They’re even doing this in the presence of an enormous amount of evidence that indicates that this course of action can’t possibly be sustained and it is even ruining the environment which will guarantee the total collapse of the economy they value so much.

They are pursuing a course of action that many including me have argued is guaranteed to lead to the Decline and Fall of the American Empire.

There should be little or no doubt about the fact that they’re not interested in a sincere democracy; however it should raise some questions about what they could possibly be thinking.

They presumably want to look out for their own best interest even if they aren’t sincerely concerned about the best interest of the majority. Yet they’re pursuing a course of action that will clearly destroy their own best interest. This may make you wonder, to put it bluntly, whether or not they believe their own bull-shit stories. I have no doubt that they have to realize that some of the stories are lies but I suspect that many of them may not actually doubt the ideology that they claim to advocate for even though it doesn’t hold up to rational scrutiny. I’m sure a review of the known research on psychology and the development of authoritarianism could help explain at least some of this and that there is a lot of evidence to support a lot of this. I’m not sure it will explain all the bizarre activity of those in power but it will explain part of it and a thorough explanation wouldn’t be complete without it.

This post is part of a series that starts with A Truth and Education Commission and The Fundamentals of Psychology. The truth commission is intended to start out as a informal process so that the public could be better informed before agreeing to conditions that may not be in their best interests. The Fundamentals of psychology are designed to explain some simple things about psychology that are routinely ignored or distorted by the government and the Mass Media; this includes the early childhood upbringing which has a long term impact on the way adults develop that is ignored by many. They’re both intended to be based on principles that the public can understand so that they don’t have to trust authority; instead they can trust their own ability to confirm the facts.

In his speech to open his campaign Mitt Romney said, “United States of America is not ruled by a monarchy or controlled by an aristocracy.” Any reasonable person should have doubts about that. He is right about it not being ruled by a monarchy but if this isn’t an aristocracy it is something way too damn close and Mitt Romney is clearly one of the members of the privileged class that is entitled to participate in the political process. When members of the ruling class run for office the Mass Media routinely gives them all the coverage they need to appear like serious candidates. If someone that is truly interested in the best interest of the majority they are routinely dismissed out of hand, or more likely not even mentioned by the Mass Media. The majority of the public doesn’t really have much if any chance at all to be elected to any major political office unless they work within the system that screens out anyone who challenges the current power structure.

In “The People’s History of the United States” Howard Zinn wrote, ‘At the very start of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, the governor, John Winthrop, had declared the philosophy of the rulers: "... in all times some must be rich, some poore, some highe and eminent in power and dignitie; others meane and in subjection."’ (p.48) This was standard belief by those in power at that time and the rest of the history of the United States clearly indicates that those in power have never surrendered their power unless the public rallied and stood up to them.

Those in power were accustomed to ruling those that did the work and they didn’t even know how to do manual labor themselves as indicated by the following passage; “White servants had not yet been brought over in sufficient quantity. Besides, they did not come out of slavery, and did not have to do more than contract their labor for a few years to get their passage and a start in the New World. As for the free white settlers, many of them were skilled craftsmen, or even men of leisure back in England, who were so little inclined to work the land that John Smith, in those early years, had to declare a kind of martial law, organize them into work gangs, and force them into the fields for survival.” (p.25) the ruling class was trained to do certain jobs and they were taught from birth that they didn’t have to do things that were beneath them. There is little or no reason to believe that this has changed generally speaking although the methods they use now have evolved some since then due at times to necessity. In the 1630’s they relied much more on slavery that was enforced by force and that was openly acknowledged. When the public stood up for their rights generally as a rule they reluctantly gave the public as much power as they had to and then attempted to portray it as if the people in power were responsible for the reforms without giving adequate credit to those that often drove the reforms at the grass roots level. Instead they generally gave credit to the politicians that oversaw the changes or at times the Supreme Court Justices that made certain rulings like Brown v. Board of Education. If someone like Howard Zinn or other sincere historians didn’t review the record then many members of the public might be more inclined to forget the way these things often really did happen.

In the previous posts about the Fundamentals of Psychology andAuthoritarianism I went into more detail about how strict disciplinarian methods of child rearing tends to teach children from an early age to believe what they’re told by authority figure without question. They are often taught to believe what they’re told even when it isn’t true and there is obvious evidence to the contrary and if the children don’t do so they are often punished with corporal punishment and intimidated. This begins at a very young age and is reinforced throughout life in several ways. The strict disciplinarian methods of child rearing tend to escalate throughout childhood and they teach the children to behave in the same manner. This is similar to the way children in the lower classes are often taught except that those in the upper classes may often be told that it is their right when they grow up to rule. This is not said openly often but there are examples in history where this has happened including when Tsarina Alexandra often talked about how her son Alexei was entitled to rule Russia; of course in this case it didn’t happen. I’m not aware of as much discussion about how they teach their own children as I am aware of the research done on middle and lower class children; primarily because there are more of them and perhaps because the upper classes tend to keep these things more private now and they have the power to enforce it unlike the middle and lower classes. However I suspect that they tend to teach their children their own prejudices and reinforce them in an authoritarian manner as they do other ideologies. This is presumably similar to the methods in which prejudices are taught to children as discussed in my previous the cause and effect of hatred which discusses how prejudiced people often use scapegoat tactics to redirect the blame for many problems to those without power. This upbringing also tends to establish a pattern of denial at a very early age; later in life this pattern of denial often enables many of them to ignore any and all inconvenient facts unless they’re forced by circumstances. Parents teach this by dictating the truth to children and by setting an example of denial themselves.

They’re almost certainly taught to ignore inconvenient facts that contradict the ideology of the ruling class. Upper class children are almost certainly taught from birth that they’re better than other children from lower classes and that they are entitled to a better education and place in life. They’re taught the same ideology that their parents tend to adopt which tends to be a elitist ideology. They are probably taught to obey authority and that they should only answer to those with more authority, not those with less; the result is that when they grow up and gain power at the highest levels they may not be accountable to anyone; which leads to the saying “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” They fail to see the damage that their actions do to the majority of the public that does the work to keep the country running. They’re almost certainly taught that the efforts to organize society are far more important than the actual work that goes into it. This is even true when the efforts to organize society are often counterproductive.

This tends to escalate, like other psychological traits, throughout childhood and is often reinforced in other ways. This is especially important when it comes to elitism that excludes people that aren’t a member of the ruling class. In college it often involves a form of hazing and some things that are often misrepresented in many conspiracy theories. One of the most widely known examples of this may be the stories of the notorious “Skull and Bones” fraternity that George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and John Kerry were part of. These stories aren’t about deep secrets that directly involve the public and they seem like things that are often just silly kids’ stuff or ridiculous rumors that are spread by fringe conspiracy theorists. Since this may be more about hazing tactics that lead to authoritarian manner the tactics may be more important than whether or not the stories are true especially since they don’t have a direct impact on society as a whole.

The most famous stories include claims that they drink out of skulls and tell each other about their sexual activity. Many people have dismissed this out of hand with the statement that it is hard to believe that George H.W. Bush would ever be involved in this; they’re much less likely to say the same about his son although some might say it about John Kerry. Whether this is true isn’t that important; however it is important to keep in mind that it wouldn’t have been the fully grown adult Bush that would have been involved in it; it would have been a teenager that was involved in it, if it happened. The point isn’t so much what ritual they conduct it is more important that they almost certainly practice the same intimidation tactics that are used in early childhood to teach children to obey authority without question. Another famous example that may be subject to more scrutiny of the extremes that hazing can involve could be the Texas bonfire accident in 1999 (see bonfire hazing article NYT and special commission report on bonfire pdf for more).

Hazing involves teaching students that they have to obey the upper clansmen and that they should exclude people that aren’t part of the group. Those who don’t conform are shunned and they’re taught that loyalty to the group especially the most powerful members of the group is more important than respect for those that aren’t involved in it. This doesn’t involve an important conspiracy as some of these conspiracy theorists imply; however it does teach them to keep only to their own elite crowd and to consider those that aren’t part of the group inferior. It is conceivable that this helps lead them to a situation where they only socialize with their own classes’ later in life and they may, in some cases, be more inclined to keep secrets from the public about important issues. Hazing also involved escalating the humiliation of those that are supposed to obey the upper classmen. This is essentially an extension of an indoctrination process that teaches them that they’re entitled to lead and that they shouldn’t respect the rights of those with less power.

This is reinforced before they’re taught to respect the rights of others; in fact this may effectively prevent them from learning to respect the right of others. Since this involves teaching them to keep secret the foolish antics that they’re involved in it also escalates a pattern of deception and denial that they may have learned at a younger age from their parents. There are some exceptions of course; one of them may have been FDR who was blackballed in college. Since he was more moderate than some of the more authoritarian members of the ruling class he was in a better position to implement the reforms that were necessary; however this was not without an enormous amount of opposition from the more authoritarian members of the ruling class including the four Supreme Court Justices that become known as the “Four Horsemen.” 
While this hazing is going on in some cases it may also be accompanied by additional indoctrination tactics by other adults including even college professors. In his book, “Nixon and Kissinger” Robert Dallek wrote, ‘Henry had to prove himself to Elliott, who greeted him coolly at their ï¬first meeting. “Oh God, another tutee,” he exclaimed after making Kissinger stand awkwardly in front of his desk for a bit while he attended to some business. Elliott instructed him to read twenty¬five books on Immanuel Kant and write a paper comparing his critiques of pure and practical reason. Henry surprised the professor by reading all the books and completing a paper in three months that dazzled Elliott.’ This seems to indicate that may not have been uncommon for college professors to use intimidation tactics to make the students gain their respect and there is a possibility that they tended to dictate many of their beliefs rather than allow discussion and scrutiny that could correct many of the mistakes that might occur, or allow other points of view to be presented.
This isn’t the only example of college professors behaving in an authoritarian manner.

In fact this may be much more common than many people realize especially if they don’t go to college. Those that are aware of it may not realize how important this could be as an indoctrination tactic to dictate ideological beliefs. Lawrence Summers has a reputation of being an authoritarian leader and he has refused to sign an anti-intimidation petition. there are apparently other college professors who also refused to sign. They have claimed that the petition should also include other groups that have been a target of discrimination; however if this was their concern they could have simply written another petition that did just that and signed that petition. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be allowed to criticize those they disagreed with; in this case it was Israel which has legitimate concerns; however those disagreements shouldn’t involve intimidation from either side. If intimidation is common in the academic world it could lead to those with the most power corrupting the way science is researched and lead to corrupt results. This wouldn’t involve suppressing free speech; quite the opposite the use of intimidation against those with opposing views would be the suppressing of free speech.

Other professors including Milton Friedman and Greg Mankiw have also advocated or used tactics that tend to preserve power for the upper classes. Milton Friedman has a reputation of being a charismatic speaker who also has used intimidation in an attempt to get his views across when it suits his purposes. I don’t know whether or not Greg Mankiw has behaved in this manner; however he has attempted to maintain control over the information that he teaches so that it isn’t passed on to those who don’t pay for it. I will be addressing both these two, especially Milton Friedman more in a future blog about economic professors; I already went into more detail about Greg Mankiw in a past blog about Copyright violators being thought criminals.
The members of the ruling class often meet with many of the most powerful people in the academic world and use this as a stepping stone to government jobs; the list of people that move back and forth from the academic world to the government would be a long one and they tend to be the same people from the same ideologies, although there may be one set from the Democratic party and another from the republican party. The differences between these two parties aren’t nearly as big as they are sometimes made to appear. When it comes to standing up for the corporations or foreign policies they rarely disagree about the most important issues. They both collect an enormous amount of money from the corporations in what they call campaign contributions. The only reason they don’t call them bribes is because those that accept these donations make the laws and provide a definition of bribery that excludes what they’re doing. However they only pay attention to those that donate an enormous amount of money so it is clear that these donations accomplish the same thing as bribes whether they call it that or not.

The authoritarian nature has been exceptionally obvious when you look at certain activities throughout history especially the war in Vietnam. The Pentagon papers reveal an enormous amount about how many of the people in the ruling class behaved and the fact that they simply declined to acknowledge many facts when they didn’t fit their ideology. They claimed that they were fighting the war for democracy despite the fact that they had absolutely no support from the people of Vietnam. Instead they propped up a government that was run by other members of their ruling class and forced their beliefs on them and withheld the truth from the American public until it was leaked. The truth was never withheld from the people of Vietnam; they knew all along what was going on but the ruling class had control over the media that informed the people in America. When the truth finally did come out they reluctantly acknowledged it, for a little while; then almost immediately they began using propaganda to continue presenting the old lies in a much more prominent manner. This enabled them to present at least two different versions of the truth to the public. One of these versions was backed up by historical documents that were fact checked at least to some degree; however this wasn’t presented very prominently in the Mass Media most of the time.

The other version was based primarily on patriotic appeal and appeals to emotions. This version of the truth spent much less time focusing on hard facts, or if they did they didn’t scrutinize it well. This version was repeated much more often and it enabled many people to continue to believe that their troops were heroes standing up for freedom. This version is what enables many veterans like John McCain to obtain higher office based partly on their record in the Vietnam War as a hero. This version of history also helped preserve the patriotic appeal when they needed the support of the public for more military actions on other occasions. The same method of spreading a propaganda version of the truth to one segment of society while another smaller segment of society reviewed a more rational version of the truth based on research that will hold up to scrutiny, for the most part.

The ruling class has also demonstrated a routine disregard for the lower and middle classes including children. They routinely pretend to stand up for the best interest of these segments of society but their policies routinely indicate the opposite. They pay little or no attention to the mass killing that is done as a result of “collateral damage,” when this happens to those that have little or no political power; however they tend to be outraged when someone uses the same term when attacking the interests of the United States. The most blatant example of this may be the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building when Timothy McVeigh called the children killed at the time “collateral damage.” This outrage was of course justified when McVeigh did it; however it should be equally justified when it is expressed against the United States. The justification for this tends to be that it is for a greater cause; however this rarely if ever stands up to scrutiny if the details are examined. The United States has routinely supported many of our enemies and armed them before they turned against us. This is just one of the ways US foreign policy has led to unnecessary wars.

This doesn’t mean they don’t pretend to stand up for the rights of children and others when it suits their purposes; for example when strikers in the City of Lawrence sent their children out of town, so they wouldn’t have to put up with the hardship along with the strikers, early in the twentieth century. “The city officials in Lawrence, citing a statute on child neglect, said no more children would he permitted to leave Lawrence.” (Peoples History of the United States, Howard Zinn p.366) This concern about child neglect clearly didn’t extend to allowing the workers to have a fair wage so they could spend more time with their children; nor did it involve discouraging child labor until the unions forced them to. Sincere looks at the history of labor, by Howard Zinn or others, clearly indicates that they only expressed concern with the best interest of the children when they were forced to by those below. This isn’t something that has changed since these union battles, as John Boehner’s famous tearful plea on the House floor for the well being of children, while trying to pass legislation that would be devastating to the well being of children, indicates.

This disregard for the best interest of the majority is also displayed when they pollute the land in the areas of the poor with impunity, use sweatshop labor, sell defective products and set one government policy after another in a manner to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the majority. In order to gain the support of a significant enough percent of the public they routinely use Manipulation Tactics that are designed to convince the public they’re looking out for their best interest or distract them while they pass laws against their interests. They also routinely develop relationships with religious leaders that can control a large segment of the public like James Dobson; these religious leaders often control their followers without encouraging them to scrutinize the details. They essentially wind up basing their decisions on what they’re told by the leaders that they’re taught to trust without question. On top of that they often have political psychologists or pollsters, like Frank Luntz and Political Scientists like the late Samuel Huntington, author of “Clash of Civilizations,” help study methods to keep the public cooperating with the ruling class even when it isn’t in the best interest of the public to support the policies chosen by the ruling class.

The ruling class of course also puts an enormous amount of effort to present themselves in a positive light with a lot of hype and ceremony that is clearly intended to awe the working class into believing they’re more important than the rest of the peasants. The most blatant examples can be seen in the behavior of the royal families including Britain’s recent ceremonies. They managed to provide an enormous amount of attention for the recent wedding of someone marrying a prince. This presumably came at an enormous amount of expense to the taxpayers at a time when they’re raising tuition for the working class. There was of course another ceremony when Obama visited and made his famous toast that was ignored by the Queen because it was improper protocol. These extremely expensive and for all practical purposes useless ceremonies are clearly much more important to many people than things that actually improve the quality of life for those that do the work in society. The reason for this is clearly to maintain their position of authority, earned or not. If you consider what the royal family did to earn their wealth it clearly seems that they were simply born into the family that has been ruling for centuries.

Many of these previous rulers were of course tyrants that led their country into war killing many innocents. It doesn’t sound good to say they deserve this privilege because they descended from a family of mass murderers; so few people say it. This is just one example indicating the ruling class essentially seems to have a much greater sense of entitlement than the lower or middle class despite the way entitlements are portrayed in the Mass Media. In fact the lower and middle class generally pay into the so called entitlements that they are allegedly getting at the expense of the taxpayer. The ruling class rarely ever does so although a closer look may indicate that they get a much larger entitlement without earning it. This will be the topic of a follow up blog coming soon.

As I said at the beginning of this blog the psychology of the ruling class may not explain all of the bizarre behavior they are currently demonstrating; however it does explain some of it. If a formal Truth commission can be set up at some point then we may be able to get a better explanation if there are some other undisclosed motives for their current behavior; however it is clear that they are not inclined to support this unless there is much more support for it from the majority of the public and this shouldn’t happen unless the details and planning are done first. They should know that they’re leading the country on an unsustainable path which isn’t even in their own best interests. The most authoritarian members of the ruling class may well believe that what they’re doing is in their own best interests but their clearly must be many more moderate members of the ruling class that know better.

One possibility that is worth serious consideration is that these more moderate members may attempt to initiate enough reform to change the inevitable environmental destruction and constant state of war without changing many of the other problems that have been maintaining the current class conflict. These more moderate people could be led by some spokespeople that champion the cause of the working class at least to a degree but only enough to implement the change that they need for their own best interests. These people could be led by spokespeople like Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow, who are clearly much more rational, in most cases, than the majority of the people presented in the Mass Media and they could usher in a new set of politicians from the moderate segment of the ruling class that may make only enough changes for their purposes and to appease the electorate.

Many of these more moderate members of the ruling class may actually be sincere about their claims for reform; however under the current circumstances they seem to be yielding more often than not to the more authoritarian portion of the ruling class. Furthermore, they may do so knowing that if they don’t those that control the most powerful institutions may simply remove them from a position that they can address their concerns to the majority of the public. In the event of sincere reform, even if some of these moderate members of the ruling class are sincere there should be some caution since they have yielded once to the authoritarians they may do so again.

A more bizarre possibility that might be worth a little consideration is whether they’re using reverse psychology to some degree. This hardly seems likely; however the extremes that they’re implementing may be having that impact even if they aren’t trying to do it. This would explain why there are so many clowns making so may absurd statements and attempting to implement so many extreme counterproductive policies.

If I made a list of all the absurd things they have said it would fill an entire book; one of the most recent examples is when Chris Christie just said, “It’s none of your business,” when asked about his own children and why they’re entitled to a better education than the majority who are having the funds cut due to policies being pushed by Christie while giving more tax breaks to the rich. He went on to claim that part of the reason is that he was responsible for far more children than his own; which ironically is the point; he was cutting the funds for everyone but his own and the children of other members of the privileged class. This isn’t the most absurd behavior by the ruling class; however I chose this one since it actually addresses an important issue unlike the a lot of their foolish behavior. It is probably more reasonable to assume that they’re behaving in this manner because they don’t want to be held accountable for the damage that they have already done so they keep covering it up and that is the only thing they know how to do.

This should be enough to indicate to the majority of the public that regardless of why they’re doing what they’re doing we should have some major reforms that could help change the current course of our government. Ideally this could and should include Election Reform that is controlled by the public. The public should have control over the job application and interview process that we currently allow the Mass Media, and the political candidates, both of which are controlled by the corporations, to implement. A Educational Revolution the public learn how to understand the issues better and enable them to learn how to make sure the political office holders are accountable to the public.

The ruling class clearly can’t be trusted to Rule.

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