Password protected materials for this course
can be viewed @ http://www.arnoldleder.com/readings/index.html.
Scroll to the section on "Political
Psychology". Password and user name
for access will be provided to students in the course. For the link to this posted web syllabus and for
the links for posted web syllabi for other courses taught by Dr.
Leder see: http://www.arnoldleder.com/.
Note on links provided in this syllabus: For some
"gated" sites access to the particular essay and/or website may
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Department Of Political Science/Texas State
UAC/Undergraduate Academic Center 355; Telephone number:
(512) 245-2143; Fax number: (512) 245-7815
Office: UCA 363 Office Hours:Office Hours for Distance
Learning Format Courses:
Flexible mutually agreed on appointment days and times with
individual students using Zoom, FaceTime, email, or
telephone. Communication for appointments through email. Dr. Leder's email address:
& STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES-Distance
Zoom class meeting times will be flexible. Generally,
Zoom meetings will occur once every week. The day and time for
these meetings will be announced.
Attendance at webinars is encouraged. Given the
difficulties faced by many students and faculty at this time
attendance at webinars will not be mandatory.
Grades This course includes two
formats. One is lecture when appropriate and the other
is a webinar format when course materials make this suitable. Determinants of Course
short papers, likely no more than 3, on assigned readings
and viewing materials.Length
and specifics of these papers TBA. Dates for
submission of each of these short papers TBA.
Oral Reports & Presentations and Webinar Participation
when circumstances and conditions permit.
Texas State University policy in regard to student conduct is
located at the end of the syllabus immediately below academic
Students with Disabilities:
Qualified students with disabilities are entitled to reasonable
and appropriate accommodations in accordance with federal laws
including Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the 1990
Americans with Disabilities Act, and the university policy UPPS
07.11.01. Students with special needs (as documented by the
Office of Disability Services) should identify themselves at the
beginning of the semester.
Note On Course &
Syllabus Materials:Students may find books, articles,
links, websites, and other materials provided in this syllabus
useful and of interest. Their listing in this syllabus,
including those which are required and recommended, does not
necessarily indicate endorsement of or agreement with any
views or positions on any issues found in these materials,
websites, or on other sites to which they may provide links.
Note On Access To Articles:
Access to articles through the Texas State University
Library available to all Texas State University
students, requires a valid User Name and a Password.
Many of the links in this syllabus provide direct access to
Password Protected Materials:Some materials on this web syllabus are
password protected and are directly accessible @ http://www.arnoldleder.com/readings/index.html.
These materials are for student use. The
password will be provided to students in the course.
COURSE DESCRIPTION This course is an introduction to the relationship
between political behavior and human motivation. Topics
covered include: conceptual and methodological concerns;
psychological perspectives and political theory; power and
personality; the psychological burdens of freedom and their
relationship to authority and individual will; illusion,
reality, and the political order; symbols and political
quiescence; the psychology of empire; and psychological insights
into political behavior offered by fiction and film.
The purpose of this course is
to provide an additional dimension to the student's
understanding of the universe of politics. To the rational,
and widely taken for granted, model of political behavior, the
spirit of which is nicely captured by Harold Lasswell's well
known definition of politics as "who gets what, when, how",
this course offers an alternative model of the universe of
politics. It is a model of political behavior that
examines the "irrational", the world of human emotions and
human personality, as they relate to and influence this
behavior. Political Psychology, as it is generally
known, is a well-established field in the discipline of
Nick Haslam, "Concept Creep: Psychology's
Expanding Concepts of Harm and Pathology", Psychological
Inquiry, February 12, 2016, 27:1, 1-17
Link to the website, location and abstract of this article
without immediate access to the full article.
A copy of this essay is posted on CANVAS for Political Science
3314 Politics and Personality.
Timur Kuran, Private Truths, Public
Lies (Harvard University Press, June 1998)
For a limited preview of this book see: https://books.google.com/books?id=ADPEDwAAQBAJ&source=gbs_book_other_versions
A pdf chapter titled
"Preference Falsification and Social Analysis" (pp. 326-348) of
Timur Kuran's book is posted in the Resources section of the
CANVAS site for Politics & Personality/Political Science
3314 Fall 2020.
"America's Enduring Caste System", The New York
Times, July 1, 2020
Our founding ideals promise liberty and equality for
all. Our reality is an enduring racial hierarchy
that has persisted for centuries.
A copy of this essay is posted on CANVAS for
Political Science 3314 Politics and Personality.
Felipe De Brigard, "Nostalgia reimagined", aeon,
20 July 2020
Neuroscience is finding what propaganda has long
known: nostalgia doesn't need real memories - an imagined past
From this essay: "If people have not
experienced a past, how can they feel nostalgic about
it? However, under the view proposed here, an
explanation is readily available. For the politics of
nostalgia doesn’t capitalise on people’s memories of
particular past events they might have experienced.
Instead, it makes use of propaganda about the way
things were, in order to provide people with the right
episodic materials to conjure up imaginations of
possible scenarios that most likely never happened.
These very same propagandistic strategies help to
convince people that their current situation is worse
than it actually is, so that when the simulated
content – which, when attended, brings about positive
emotions – is juxtaposed to negatively valenced
thoughts about their present status, a motivation to
eliminate this emotional mismatch ensues, and with it
an inclination to political action. The politics of
nostalgia has less to do with memories about a rosy
past, and more with propaganda and misinformation.
This suggests, paradoxically, that the best way to
counteract it might be to improve our knowledge of the
past. Nostalgia can be a powerful political motivator,
for better or for worse. Improving the accuracy of our
memory for the past could indeed be the best strategy
to curb the uncharitable deceptions of the politics of
Vivian Gornick, "What Endures of the Romance of
American Communism", The New York Review of Books,
April 3, 2020
From the essay: "It is
perhaps hard to understand now, but at that time, in this
place, the Marxist vision of world solidarity as translated
by the Communist Party induced in the most ordinary of men
and women a sense of one’s own humanity that made life feel
large: large and clarified. It was to this inner clarity
that so many became not only attached, but addicted. While
under its influence, no reward of life, neither love nor
fame nor wealth, could compete. At the same time, it was
this very all-in-allness of world and self that, all too
often, made of Communists the true believers who could not
face up to the police state corruption at the heart of their
The Authoritarian Personality Question
John Levi Martin, "The Authoritarian Personality: 50
Years Later: What Lessons Are There for Political Psychology?", Political
Psychology , Vol. 22, No. 1 (Mar., 2001), pp. 1-26
Political psychologists should regard
The Authoritarian Personality as a cautionary example of
bias arising from the choice of methodological
assumptions. From the
conclusion of this article:
"Fifty years later, the unsound
nature of TAP (The Authoritarian Personality) is
so blatant that this essay almost seems
unsporting, yet it originally was taken quite
seriously. Although methodological
critiques were made from the earliest days, I have
seen no categorical dismissals. Presumably,
there was sufficient broad agreement that there were
'bad guys' out there who deserved no quarter, and
the dismissal that seems minimally appropriate by
today's standards appeared excessive then. Might
we, then, also be in the middle of constructing
research that, 50 years hence, will only shame us?
" (boldface added)
Peter E. Gordon, "The Authoritarian
Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of
Trump", boundary2, June 15, 2016 @ http://www.boundary2.org/2016/06/peter-gordon-the-authoritarian-personality-revisited-reading-adorno-in-the-age-of-trump/
From Peter E. Gordon's article:
"The essential charge here is
that of confirmation bias, that the research team knew in
advance what they were looking for and devised the
questionnaires only to pick out the relevant psychological
types. Despite ongoing controversies over its legitimacy,
however, the original study merits our attention
especially today, when the spectacle of American politics
invites anxious comparison to the political trends of an
earlier age. The question that deserves our
consideration now is whether the political problems now
looming before us in the United States actually permit us
to mobilize concepts that were first developed in the
study of the Authoritarian Personality more than a half
century ago, and whether Adorno’s own contributions to
that study retain any explanatory power after more than half
a century." (boldface added)
From the conclusion of Peter E. Gordon's article:
"But later efforts to revise the idea of the authoritarian
personality may have neglected the more radical insight
that Adorno wished to inject into the research agenda,
namely, that psychological character itself is
conditional upon historically variant social and culture
forms. Rather than tracing the occurrence of an
authoritarian consciousness, we might want to trace that
authoritarianism to a standardization of consciousness
that today leaves no precinct of our culture
unmarked. This might alert us to the far more
unsettling and ironic proposition that today both
realms—the political and the
psychological—are threatened with dissolution.
Seen from this perspective, the attempt to describe
Trumpism with the pathologizing language of character
types only works as a defense against the deeper
possibility that Trump, far from being a violation of
the norm, may actually signify an emergent norm of the
social order as such. If any of the foregoing
is correct, then we should countenance the sobering
proposition that, even if Trump himself should suffer an
electoral defeat, the social phenomena that made him
possible can be expected to grow only more powerful in the
future." (boldface added)
Dan P. McAdams, "The Mind of
Donald Trump", Atlantic, June, 2016 @
Narcissism, disagreeableness, grandiosity—a psychologist
investigates how Trump’s extraordinary personality might
shape his possible presidency.
Excerpts from this article by Dan P. McAdams:
"A large and rapidly growing body of research shows that
people’s temperament, their characteristic motivations and
goals, and their internal conceptions of themselves are
powerful predictors of what they will feel, think, and do
in the future, and powerful aids in explaining why. In the
realm of politics, psychologists have recently
demonstrated how fundamental features of human
personality—such as extroversion and narcissism—shaped the
distinctive leadership styles of past U. S. presidents,
and the decisions they made."
"During and after World War II, psychologists conceived
of the authoritarian personality as a pattern of attitudes
and values revolving around adherence to society’s
traditional norms, submission to authorities who personify
or reinforce those norms, and antipathy—to the point of
hatred and aggression—toward those who either challenge
in-group norms or lie outside their orbit. Among white
Americans, high scores on measures of authoritarianism
today tend to be associated with prejudice against a wide
range of “out-groups,” including homosexuals, African
Americans, immigrants, and Muslims. Authoritarianism is
also associated with suspiciousness of the humanities and
the arts, and with cognitive rigidity, militaristic
sentiments, and Christian fundamentalism.
When individuals with authoritarian proclivities fear
that their way of life is being threatened, they may turn
to strong leaders who promise to keep them safe—leaders
like Donald Trump. In a national poll conducted recently
by the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams, high
levels of authoritarianism emerged as the single strongest
predictor of expressing political support for Donald
Trump. Trump’s promise to build a wall on the Mexican
border to keep illegal immigrants out and his railing
against Muslims and other outsiders have presumably fed
READING, ORAL & WRITTEN REPORTS, & DISCUSSION I.
Readings: Gordon DiRenzo, "Perspectives
Personality and Political Behavior" inGordon
DiRenzo (ed.)/Personality & Politics (1974), pp. 3-26.
The DiRenzo article is posted on the CANVAS site for this
course at Political Science 3314/Politics
& Personality in the Resources section
of the CANVAS site. Click on the link for DiRenzo article
pages. Please note: This article has been posted as separate
photos of the pages with most of the page photos showing two
pages. The page photos are numbered (as they are in the original)
pages 3 through 26. After reading
the article click on Resources to return to the Resources section. Note: This particular article is heavily
"gated' on the internet and access is difficult. This is the
reason for posting photos of the individual pages of this
article. Student understanding and patience are appreciated.
II. Freud - Instinctual Drives &
A view of "human nature" in
"Then, with the ordinary conventions of civilized
life thrown into confusion,human nature, always ready to
offend(emphasis added) even where laws exist, showed
itself proudly in its true colours, as something incapable
of controlling passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice,
the enemy to anything superior to itself..."
These are the observations of
Thucydides [c. 460 - 400 BCE], the ancient Greek historian and
student of political behavior, with regard to "The Civil War
In Corcyra 427 [BCE]" in: Thucydides, History Of The
Peloponnesian War (Rex Warner Translation/Introduction
& Notes By M. I. Finley/Penguin Classics/1972), p. 245.
Readings: Freud, Civilization
Its Discontents, the entire monograph.
This entire Freud monograph may be
accessed on the CANVAS site for this
course in the Files section. This link is listed as
Freud's-CIVILIZATION-AND-ITS DISCONTENTS-text final (as shown
here). Note: This is the edition (Norton)
translated and edited from the German edition in 1930) by James
All students in this course should download and print for
their personal use a hard copy of "A Partial Glossary Of Freud".
This glossary can be accessed @ http://www.arnoldleder.com/readings/index.html.
Scroll to the section on "Political Psychology"
and look for "A Partial Glossary Of Freud". This location is
password protected. Password and user name for access will
be provided to students in the course.
A copy of The Glossary of Freud is also posted on the CANVAS
site in the Resources section listed on the main page of the
CANVAS site for Politics & Personality/Political Science
Moyn, "Freud's Discontents", The Nation,
November 2, 2016 @ https://www.thenation.com/article/freuds-discontents/.
This article by Samuel Moyn may also be accessed @ http://libproxy.txstate.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=119241404&site=ehost-live.
(Note: The title of this Samuel Moyn
article accessed at this link is "A
Whole Climate". It is the same article.)
Texas State University Library permalink.
A valid Texas State University User Name and password are
required for access. From this article:
Why did one of the 20th century’s most influential thinkers fade
"The abandonment of Freud’s speculative penchant
has largely meant a return to positivistic theories of human
nature. People, in this conventional view, are rational
political and economic actors, knowledgeable about their own
interests, free to choose them, and—as a default at
least—trustworthy in their pursuit. Rational humanity
finds itself once again enthroned, its idiosyncrasies sometimes
acknowledged as requiring modest tweaks and technocratic
palliatives, as if our world did not undermine that optimism at
every turn. (boldface added)
Our ongoing history ... has proven the
insufficiency of such approaches. But even beyond today, the
intricacy of our personal worlds, and the upheavals of our social
and political ones, will not permit such doctrines to rule for
much longer. Their intellectual replacements may not resemble
psychoanalysis exactly, but a renewed struggle against this
view of human rationality—a struggle that no one did more than
Freud to sponsor—can provide future inspiration."(boldface
McClay/The Moral Economy of Guilt/First Things, May 2011, No.
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas State University User Name and password
are required. This article may
also be accessed @ https://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/05/the-moral-economy-of-guilt. Abstract:
The article explores the contribution of cultural process in the
emergence of sense of guilt. According to the author, the
advancement in civilization contributed to the heightening of
the sense of guilt which made the people lose their happiness.
He adds that religions in the world are trying to save the
people from the sin of guilt. He stresses that the ability to
feel guilt is one of the attributes of people. He also mentions
the therapeutic unreality of guilt, which can be something
illusory and omnipresent and the concept of forgiveness. "In his grand and gloomy book Civilization
Sigmund Freud identified the tenacious sense of guilt as the most
important problem in the development of civilization. In fact, he continued, it seems that the price we
pay for our advance in civilization is a loss of happiness
through the heightening of the sense of guilt." (boldface
"The proposition that violence derives from kith and kin
overturns a core liberal belief that we assault and are
assaulted by those who are strangers to us. If that were so, the
solution would be at hand: Get to know the stranger. Talk with
the stranger. Reach out. The cure for violence is better
communication, perhaps better education. Study foreign cultures
and peoples. Unfortunately, however, our brother, our neighbor,
enrages us precisely because we understand him. Cain knew his
brother—he "talked with Abel his brother"—and slew him
We don't like this truth. We prefer to fear strangers. We like
to believe that fundamental differences pit people against one
another, that world hostilities are driven by antagonistic
principles about how society should be constituted.
... We hate the neighbor we are
enjoined to love. Why? Why do small disparities between people
provoke greater hatred than the large ones? Perhaps the work
of Freud helps chart the underground sources of fratricidal
violence. Freud introduced the phrase the narcissism of
minor differences to
describe this phenomenon. He noted that it is
precisely the little dissimilarities in persons who are
otherwise alike that arouse feelings of strangeness and enmity
(Freud's words are in italics.) [Boldface added.]
Harold Lasswell, The Political Personality inGordon
DiRenzo (ed.)/Personality & Politics (1974),
Note: Lasswell's classic article first appeared in 1948 as a
chapter in his book Power And
Personality. This article by
Harold Lasswell is frequently referenced in the literature on
politics and personality. This particular Lasswell article
is posted on the CANVAS site for this course at Political
Science 3314/Politics & Personality in the Resources section
of the CANVAS site. Click on the link for Lasswell The
Political Personality. Please note: This article has been posted as separate
photos of the pages with most of the page photos showing two
pages. The page photos are numbered pages 38 through 54.
After reading the article click on Resources to return to the
Resources section. Note: This particular article
is heavily "gated' on the internet and access is
difficult. This is the reason for posting photos of the
individual pages of this article. Student understanding
and patience are appreciated.
Please also note:See immediately
below for the now accessible link to his entire book
Power And Personality (1948) in pdf in which the entire
original article The Political
Personality first appeared as Chapter
III (pp. 39 through 58).
Harold Lasswell's classic, pioneering article, The Political
Personality, noted immediately above, may now
also be accessed in pdf
@ https://ia801603.us.archive.org/20/items/in.ernet.dli.2015.187902/2015.187902.Power-And-Personality.pdf Note: The immediately above link to Harold
Lasswell's article The Political Personality can be found in Chapter III, p.
39. Scroll to Chapter III and look for the chapter title The
Political Personality. This chapter includes pages 39 through 58. Page
57 includes Lasswell's well known view and summary of the
characteristics of the political individual. Interested
students may note that the pdf link provided here permits access
to Lasswell's entire book Power And Personality (1st Edition W.W. Norton 1948).
Samuel P. Huntington, "Conservatism as an Ideology", The
American Political Science Review, Vol. 51, No. 2 (June,
1957), pp. 454-473 (20 pages).
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas
State University User Name/ID and password are required for
From this classic 1957 Huntington essay:
"If the situational definition of conservatism is correct,
conservatism is a positional ideology. Conservatism develops to
meet a specific historical need. When the need disappears, the
conservative philosophy subsides. In each case, the articulation
of conservatism is a response to a specific social situation. The
manifestation of conservatism at any one time and place has little
connection with its manifestation at any other time and place.
Conservatism thus reflects no permanent group interest. Depending
upon the existence of a particular relation among groups rather
than upon the existence of the groups themselves, it lasts only so
long as the relation lasts, not so long as the groups last. And
the relation is necessarily ephemeral, seldom continuing more than
one generation. Consequently, the conservative ideology is not
developed and transmitted with alterations, elaboration, and
revision from one age to the next. Nor does it have a set of basic
writings to be annotated, interpreted, and argued over by
contending sets of disciples. The manifestations of conservatism
are simply parallel ideological reactions to similar social
situations. The substance of conservatism is essentially static.
Conservative thought is repetitive, not evolutionary. Its
manifestations are historically isolated and discrete. Thus,
paradoxical though it may seem, conservatism, the defender of
tradition, is itself without tradition; conservatism, the appeal
to history, is without history." (pp. 468-469).
... "The impulse to conservatism comes from the
social challenge before the theorist, not the intellectual
tradition behind him. Men are driven to conservatism by the
horrible feeling that a society or institution which they have
approved or taken for granted and with which they have been
intimately connected may suddenly cease to exist. The
conservative thinkers of one age, consequently, have little
influence on those of the next." (p. 470).
For observations on the liberal - conservative
divide and connections to social and psychological factors, see: John
Jost/The End of the End of Ideology/American Psychologist, Vol.
61 (7), October 2006, pp. 651-670.
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas State
University User Name and password are required for access.
shorter version of this article can be accessed @ http://thesituationist.wordpress.com/2007/09/10/ideology-is-back-and-the-divides-are-still-deep/.
From the article:
"Ideology, because it appears to satisfy many social
and psychological needs of our species, is probably a natural part
of the human constitution and will always be present in one form
or another. Human beings have required and will continue to
require the characteristics that are associated with the political
Left as well as the political Right. We need tradition, order,
structure, closure, discipline, competition and conscientiousness,
to be sure, but if the human race is to continue to survive new
challenges we will also just as surely need creativity, curiosity,
tolerance, diversity, co-operation and open-mindedness.
Getting both 'sides' to agree on this is the hardest part".
Cody Delistraty, "The coming-of-age con", Aeon,
September 8, 2017
"For the past few decades, the study of personality came in two
basic modes. One argued that personality is formed and fixed in
early childhood. (‘Personality Set For Life By First Grade’ was a
newspaper headline in 2010.) You couldn’t do anything about who
you were: you could only figure yourself out, and then try to fit
in. The other mode argued the opposite case: one’s personality is
inherently unstable, so unstable, in fact, that it can never be
‘found’ or even understood.
Personalities can and do change, often a
lot, ... sometimes very quickly.
Most recently, research studies suggest a melding of these
views. An individual does not have a given ‘self’ but is instead
comprised of many ‘selves’ that shift slowly and in relation to
social circumstance. Brian Little, a personality psychologist at
the University of Cambridge, has distinguished between
‘biogenic’ personality traits – genetically programmed, and,
therefore, fixed traits – and ‘sociogenic traits’ – traits based
on the reaction to one’s social environment, which are
constantly in flux. An analysis of 207 studies, published in
January 2017 in Psychological Bulletin, supports
Little’s claim that we have both fixed traits and shifting ones.
The analysis found that personalities can and do change, often a
lot, and ... sometimes very quickly.
Why, then, is the myth of ‘growing up’ so persistent? If
the idea of a ‘single self’ is out of kilter with the way that
psychology understands identity – as a succession of selves,
or multiple selves co-existing in one individual at all times
– what keeps it running?" (boldface added)
Personality, & Political Choice Moral Psychology & Politics: Steven
Moral Instinct/NYT Sunday Magazine January 13, 2008
"The ranking and placement of moral spheres also divides the
cultures of liberals and conservatives in the United States. Many
bones of contention, like homosexuality, atheism and one-parent
families from the right, or racial imbalances, sweatshops and
executive pay from the left, reflect different weightings of the
spheres. In a large Web survey, Haidt found that liberals put a
lopsided moral weight on harm and fairness while playing down
group loyalty, authority and purity. Conservatives instead place a
moderately high weight on all five. It’s not surprising that each
side thinks it is driven by lofty ethical values and that the
other side is base and unprincipled.
... So a biological understanding of the moral sense does
not entail that people are calculating maximizers of their genes
or self-interest. But where does it leave the concept of morality
... Here is the worry. The scientific outlook has taught us
that some parts of our subjective experience are products of our
biological makeup and have no objective counterpart in the world.
The qualitative difference between red and green, the tastiness of
fruit and foulness of carrion, the scariness of heights and
prettiness of flowers are design features of our common nervous
system, and if our species had evolved in a different ecosystem or
if we were missing a few genes, our reactions could go the other
way. Now, if the distinction between right and wrong is also a
product of brain wiring, why should we believe it is any more real
than the distinction between red and green? And if it is just a
collective hallucination, how could we argue that evils like
genocide and slavery are wrong for everyone, rather than just
distasteful to us?"
"The citizens of wealthy, established democracies
are less satisfied with their governments than they have been
at any time since opinion polling began. Most scholars have
interpreted this as a sign of dissatisfaction with particular
governments rather than with the political system as a whole.
Drawing on recent public opinion data, we suggest that this
optimistic interpretation is no longer plausible. Across a
wide sample of countries in North America and Western Europe,
citizens of mature democracies have become markedly less
satisfied with their form of government and surprisingly open
to nondemocratic alternatives. A serious democratic disconnect
has emerged. If it widens even further, it may begin to
challenge the stability of seemingly consolidated
Rationality & Politics: Bryan
Caplan/The Myth of the
Rational Voter: Why Voters Choose Bad Policies
Read the Introduction
to this book. From the Introduction:
"This book develops an alternative story of how democracy fails.
The central idea is that voters
are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational—and
vote accordingly. Economists and cognitive psychologists
usually presume that everyone 'processes information' to the best
of his ability. Yet common sense tells us that emotion and
ideology—not just the facts or their 'processing'—powerfully sway
human judgment. Protectionist thinking is hard to uproot because
it feels good. When people vote under the influence of false
beliefs that feel good, democracy persistently delivers bad
policies. As an old computer programming slogan goes, GIGO—Garbage
in, garbage out.
... This book has three conjoined themes. The first: Doubts about
the rationality of voters are empirically justified. The second:
Voter irrationality is precisely what economic theory implies once
we adopt introspectively plausible assumptions about human
motivation. The third: Voter irrationality is the key to a
realistic picture of democracy.
... In the naive public-interest view, democracy works
because it does what voters want. In the view of most democracy
skeptics, it fails because it does not do what voters want. In my
view, democracy fails because it does what voters want. In
economic jargon, democracy has a built-in externality. An
irrational voter does not hurt only himself. He also hurts
everyone who is, as a result of his irrationality, more likely to
live under misguided policies. Since most of the cost of voter
irrationality is external—paid for by other people, why not
indulge? If enough voters think this way, socially injurious
policies win by popular demand." (boldface added)
For an overview of the basic ideas that inform Bryan Caplan's
much discussed book, see: Bryan
Myth of the Rational Voter/Essay @ cato-unbound.org/November 6,
See also this review of Bryan Caplan's book: Louis
the wrong people voting?/The New Yorker July 9, 2007
"Caplan rejects the assumption that voters pay no attention to
politics and have no real views. He thinks that voters do have
views, and that they are, basically, prejudices. He calls these
because, once they are translated into policy, they make everyone
worse off. People not only hold irrational views, he thinks; they
like their irrational views. In the language of economics,
they have demand for
irrationality curves: they will give up y amount
of wealth in order to consume x amount of irrationality.
Since voting carries no cost, people are free to be as irrational
as they like. They can ignore the consequences, just as the
herdsman can ignore the consequences of putting one more cow on
the public pasture. Voting is
not a slight variation on shopping, as Caplan puts it. Shoppers have incentives to be
rational. Voters do not.”
Sunshine Hillygus & Todd G. Shields/The Persuadable Voter:
Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns (Princeton University
Press 2008) Read
"Our theory of the persuadable voter challenges three
widespread myths about contemporary American politics. First,
there is a popular perception that recent presidential candidates
have campaigned on divisive issues as a way to fire up their core
partisan base. ... Academic works have
similarly concluded that candidates will be willing to take
extreme positions on controversial issues to pander to their
partisan base—either because they need to win party primaries or
to obtain the campaign contributions and other resources necessary
to run for office.In contrast, we argue that
divisive issues are often used to appeal to persuadable voters,
often from the opposing partisan camp.
The second myth we take on in this book is the widespread view
that the polarization we observe in Washington has led to or has
followed similar polarization in the electorate. The reality is
that in a complex and pluralistic society, political parties are
inherently coalitions of diverse individuals. The choice of only
two major parties ensures that some partisans will be incongruent
on some issues, thereby creating policy cleavages within the party
coalitions. We argue that these cross-pressures between partisan
loyalties and policy preferences have clear implications for the
behavior of both voters and candidates in the campaign.
Cross-pressured partisans are willing to reassess their
expected support for their party’s nominee if they come to
believe that an issue about which they disagree with their party
is at stake in the election. These voters might find the
salience of a conflicting issue increased by real-world events
or personal experiences, but a political campaign can also
activate a policy disagreement by highlighting the candidates’
differences on the issue and calling attention to one’s own
party’s failings and the opposition’s virtues on the issue.
Finally, the third myth that we challenge in our analysis
is the enduring conventional wisdom that persuadable voters are
the least admirable segment of the electorate—poorly informed
and lacking in policy attitudes. The prevailing perception about
the persuadable segment of the electorate is that 'its level of
information is low, its sense of political involvement is
slight, its level of political participation is not high.'7
It is thought that these muddled voters make up their
minds on the basis of nonpolicy considerations, like candidate
personality, charisma, and the 'guy you’d wanna drink a beer
with' criteria. In contrast, our theory suggests that policy
issues are often central to how persuadable voters make up their
minds. To be clear, this book is not a polemical account of an
American populace composed of ideal citizens highly engaged and
fully informed across all policy domains. Rather, we argue
simply that for those voters who find themselves at odds with
their party nominee it is the campaign that often helps to
determine whether partisan loyalties or issue preferences are
given greater weight in their vote decision".
Does Our Language Shape The Way We Think?/www.edge.org/June
"For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought
was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong.
Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped
reopen this question. We have collected data around the world:
from China, Greece, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, and Aboriginal
Australia. What we have
learned is that people who speak different languages do indeed
think differently and that even flukes of grammar can
profoundly affect how we see the world. Language is a uniquely
human gift, central to our experience of being human.
Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us
one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity."
"Mind Control & the Internet", The New York Review of
Books, June 23, 2011, Vol. LVIII, No. 11, pp. 33-35.
A review essay on: World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of
Humanity, Machines, and the Internetby
Michael Chorost (Free Press 2011); The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is
Hiding from You by Eli Pariser (Penguin 2011);
You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto by
Jaron Lanier (Vintage 2010).
From the Essay:
"Among the many insidious consequences of this
individualization is that by tailoring the information you
receive to the algorithm’s perception of who you are, a
perception that it constructs out of fifty-seven variables,
Google directs you to material that is most likely to reinforce
your own worldview, ideology, and assumptions. Pariser suggests,
for example, that a search for proof about climate change will
turn up different results for an environmental activist than it
would for an oil company executive and, one assumes, a different
result for a person whom the algorithm understands to be a
Democrat than for one it supposes to be a Republican. (One need
not declare a party affiliation per se—the algorithm will prise
this out.) In this way, the Internet, which isn’t the press, but
often functions like the press by disseminating news and
information, begins to cut us off from dissenting opinion and
conflicting points of view, all the while seeming to be neutral
and objective and unencumbered by the kind of bias inherent in,
and embraced by, say, the The
Weekly Standard or The
... when ideology drives the dissemination of information,
knowledge is compromised.
This is Pariser’s point exactly, and his concern: that by having our own ideas bounce back
at us, we inadvertently indoctrinate ourselves with our own
ideas. 'Democracy requires citizens to see things from
one another’s point of view, but instead we’re more and more
enclosed in our own bubbles,' he writes. 'Democracy requires a
reliance on shared facts; instead we’re being offered parallel
but separate universes.'
The 'hive mind' created through our electronic
connections necessarily obviates the individual—indeed,
that’s what makes it a collective consciousness. Anonymity,
which flourishes where there is no individual
accountability, is one of its key features, and behind it,
meanness, antipathy, and cruelty have a tendency to rush
Leaders & Followers
1. Personality of
Leaders & Political Behavior
a. Political Leaders Readings:
"The Political Personality"; George, "Power as a Compensatory
Value for Political Leaders".
Whitney Rugg , “Kitsch”, Department of Art History, University of
Chicago Winter 2002 @http://csmt.uchicago.edu/glossary2004/kitsch.htm
From this essay: "The self-congratulatory spirit of kitsch can
also be seen as a deception. Kitsch holds up a 'highly
considerate mirror,' according to Hermann Broch, that allows
contemporary man to 'recognize himself in the counterfeit
image it throws back at him and to confess his own lies (with
a delight which is to a certain extent sincere).' By providing comfort, kitsch performs a
denial. It glosses over harsh truths and anesthetizes genuine
pain. As Harold Rosenberg perceived: 'There is no counter
concept to kitsch. Its antagonist is not an idea but
reality'." (boldface added) Note: Sources referenced in this excerpt are
found in the list of references accompanying the posted essay.
Aileen Kelly, "Why They Believed in Stalin", The New York Review of
Books, April 26, 2007, Vol. LIV, No. 7, pp.
58-62. A review essay on Tear Off the Masks: Identity and Imposture in
Twentieth-Century Russia (Princeton University Press,
2007) by Sheila Fitzpatrick and Revolution
on My Mind: Writing a Diary Under Stalin (Harvard University
Press 2007) by Jochen Hellbeck.
The Kelly article can be viewed @ http://www.arnoldleder.com/readings/index.html.
Scroll to the section on "Political
Psychology" and look for "Aileen
Kelly: Why They Believed in Stalin".
This location is password protected. Password and user
name for access will be provided to students in the course.
"... the Soviet notion of selfhood had deep roots in a different
cultural tradition which did not recognize the same dichotomy of
public and private. Lack of historical perspective is a major
flaw in Fitzpatrick's book. The "new man" was not, as
Fitzpatrick implies, a concept invented by the Soviet regime. It
was central to a tradition of introspection and moral
self-perfecting that arose in the early nineteenth century as a
response to the dilemma of the Russian intelligentsia whose
talents were frustrated in their benighted country, and whose
longing for personal fulfillment was combined with a strong
commitment to social justice. From Enlightenment rationalism,
German romantic philosophy, and French utopian socialism many
educated Russians absorbed a vision of history as a collective
process leading to the fullest self-realization of man through
the healing of all painful divisions between individuals and the
... In the worst years of Stalinism many maintained their faith
in the Party's infallibility by developing a dual consciousness.
As Stephen Kotkin explains, for Soviet citizens the
discrepancies between lived experience and revolutionary
ideology based ultimately on theory seem to have given rise to a
dual reality: life could resemble 'a split existence: sometimes
in one truth, sometimes in the other.' Even when theoretical
'truth' was contradicted by common sense, it still formed an
integral part of everyday existence; without an understanding of
it, citizens found it impossible to know what was permitted and
what not. But acceptance of the truthfulness of the
revolutionary truth also fulfilled another function: 'it was
also,' Kotkin writes, 'a way to transcend the pettiness of daily
life, to see the whole picture, to relate mundane events to a
larger design; it offered something to strive for.' True believers (boldface
added) could explain away the worst excesses of Stalinism by
viewing the present from the perspective of eschatological time.
In this form of secular religiosity, history, like Providence,
was seen to move in mysterious ways; when the goal was attained
it would become clear that policies and actions which now seemed
objectionable or senseless all had their place in the overall
... The diaries Hellbeck has selected are especially significant
for the light they shed on an aspect of the Soviet mentality
under Stalin which, as he notes, Western readers find
particularly challenging: the acceptance of violence in the
service of self-realization. We see at first hand the operation,
chilling and sometimes poignant, of the dual consciousness that
allowed many to accept the mass slaughter of collectivization
and the Terror and to justify the violence inflicted on them and
those they cherished for crimes they did not commit.
... His study adds an
important dimension to the work done by other scholars to
throw light on the psychological reasons behind the collusion
of moral idealists in the extreme violence of the Stalin
concludes by reminding us that the modes of thought that
encouraged Soviet citizens to accept violence in the service
of self-realization were not specific to the Soviet Union or
the political left. (boldface added) In the first
half of the last century the attraction of movements promising
fulfillment through an all-embracing worldview led intellectuals
across Europe such as Ernst Jünger and Georges Sorel to extol
the morally and aesthetically purifying effects of political
For a review of this book, see:
Karl Schlögel, 'Life has been
of Books, 16 August 2007. Karl Schlögel's review
essay may be accessed @ http://www.arnoldleder.com/readings/index.html.
Scroll to the section on "Political
Psychology" and look for "Schlögel
review of Hellbeck book". This
location is password protected. Password and user name for
access will be provided to students in the course.
For additional material on the issue of collaboration with
totalitarian regimes, see the Milan Kundera affair
in the Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung of October 13, 2008.
"The book of betrayal under Communism has just gained another
chapter," reports Karl-Peter Schwarz. "In March 1950, as a student
in Prague, the writer Milan Kundera informed on an
anti-Communist resistance activist. The victim, 22-year-old Miroslav
Dvoracek was subsequently arrested and sentenced to 22-years
in prison. The State prosecutor at the time demanded the death
sentence for espionage." The young Czech historian, Adam
Hradilek of Ustr, who found the letter of denunciation
with Kundera's signature in an archive, describes the affair in a
detailed report in the magazine Respekt. The Slovakian internet
magazine Salon then published an English translation of the report. The
article reads like a sinister novel about love, betrayal,
freedom, Communism, heroism and failure. The commentary, by Respekt
editor-in-chief, Martin Simecka, is also available in English here.
For additional background on this story in English, see: Rachel
Says Acclaimed Czech Writer (Milan Kundera) Informed on a
Supposed Spy/NYT October 13, 2008 and Dan
Against Writer Reopens Traumas of Czech Past/NYT October 18,
Life appears to be imitating art in the drama surrounding the
accusation that Milan Kundera had denounced a Western intelligence
'On one level the reaction goes far beyond Mr. Kundera himself,
tapping into gnawing discomfort in the Czech Republic about the
extent of collaboration during 41 years of Communist rule.
... This story is not just about Kundera, it is about the history
of the Czech Republic,” said Petr Tresnak, one of the authors of
the Respekt article. 'People in this country are overwhelmed and
disgusted by the number of people who collaborated with the
regime, and this is a very concrete example of what happened.'
... In 1991, the Czechs were among the
first Eastern-bloc countries to introduce a law banning from
public life those listed as agents or informers in secret police
reports. The law, Mr. Pehe contended, had ensnared tens of
thousands of people who may have been unwilling collaborators.
'The reality is that the totalitarian
regime was constructed in such a way that 99 percent of people
cooperated in one way or another, and the Kundera case helps them
to feel morally absolved, like they are the good guys and he was
one of the baddies,' Mr. Pehe said."
2. Crisis, Stress,
& Political Leadership
The Caine Mutiny - Video (1954)
video @https://www.military-stuff.org/the-caine-mutiny-1954-hd-full-movie/ Note: Access to this
film may require current or recently updated
browsers. Older browsers or browsers that have not
been recently updated may not be able to access this film.
2. Suicide Bombers: Rationality, Culture, Structure, &
Psychological Profiles Readings: Mohammed
Hafez/Rationality, Culture, and Structure in the Making of
Suicide Bombers: A Preliminary Synthesis and Illustrative Case
Study/Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, March-April 2006,
Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 165-185.
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas
State University User Name and password are required for access. Abstract
Suicidal violence involves three levels of analysis:
individual motivations, organizational strategies, and societal
conflicts. Using rationalist, culturalist, and structuralist
approaches to contentious politics, this article explores the
intersection of rationality, norms, and conflict in the making of
extreme violence. The case of Palestinian suicide bombers
demonstrates the interdependence of the three approaches to
explaining suicidal violence. For individuals, self-sacrifice is
conceived as an act of personal redemption rooted in religious
morality and national salvation. For organizations, human bombs
provide strategic advantages in the context of asymmetrical
warfare. For collectivities, martyrs are venerated when three
conditions converge: (1) cultural norms encompass symbolic
narratives that honor martyrdom; (2) legitimate authorities
acquiesce to extreme violence; and (3) conflicts generate feelings
of victimization and threat by external enemies.
Abijou Yanf, Mark Lindsay, "Suicide Bombers: Are Psychological
Profiles Possible?"/Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Vol.
27, No.4, July-August 2004 (pdf)
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas State
University User Name and password are required for access. Note: On some
browsers, it may be necessary or more convenient to save the
article to desktop as pdf with the extension .pdf following the
title of the article. Abstract
Review of research on the
characteristics of suicide bombers.
Contrary to previous commentary, it is suggested
that suicide bombers may share personality traits (such as the
authoritarian personality) that psychological profiles of
suicide bombersmight be feasible, and that the suicide bombers
may be characterized by the risk factors that increase the
probability of suicide. Two assertions are common in essays on
suicide bombers. The first is that suicide bombersdo not
appear to be characterized by the risk factors that predict
suicidal behavior... The second is that psychological profiles
of suicide bombers are not possible... This essay will
argue that both assertions are certainly premature and
probably incorrect. Both of these tasks (identifying
suicide risk factors and constructing psychological profiles)
require extensive biographies of the individuals involved.
3. The "Harun al-Rashid Motive": Disguised
Terrorists' Desire To Reveal Their True Identities Peter
Harun al-Rashid and the Terrorists: Identity Concealed, Identity
Revealed/Political Psychology, Vol. 25, No. 3, June 2004.
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas
State University User Name and password are required for access. Abstract
The assumption of false identities is a
frequent theme in history, fiction, and current events.
Spies and criminals are among those who pretend to be other
than they are, although the strategy is not restricted to
them. Harun al-Rashid (763-809), medieval Caliph of
Baghdad, was described in the Thousand and One Nights as
disguising himself in order to detect and punish
evildoers. One distinctive feature of his adventures is
that at some point he threw off the disguise and revealed his
true identity. This paper recounts similar
self-exposures by spies and terrorists (including those of
9/11) in situations where such an act could spell disaster for
them. It further explores a number of explanations for
the "Harun al-Rashid motive", suggests a way to measure it and
discusses ways in which conterterrorism agencies could build
upon it for their own purposes.
For a possible example or variant of the Harun al-Rashid motive,
unrelated to terrorism or detection of evildoers, in the American
political arena, see: William
New Senator Sees Change at Work/NYT December 5, 2008
"Crisp in his business suits and smooth in his delivery, the
mayor has more urban polish than many other elected officials in
Alaska. He is a regular presence at events like mortgage bankers
luncheons and chamber of commerce gatherings; he also likes to slip in stories
about standing in the supermarket aisle, commiserating about the
high prices with residents who may not know he is mayor.
He says he seeks out the discounted day-old bread."
Sunstein/The Thin Line/The New Republic, May 21, 2007, Vol. 236,
No. 4, 183, pp. 51-55 @ https://newrepublic.com/article/63986/the-thin-line.
Cass Sunstein's essay is a review of the book The
Effect: How Good People Can Turn Evil by Philip Zimbardo (March,
2007). "Why do human
commit despicable acts? One answer points to individual
dispositions; another answer emphasizes situational pressures.
In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stressed the
importance of individual dispositions in describing terrorists
as "simply evil people who want to kill." Situationists reject
this view. They believe that horrible acts can be committed by
perfectly normal people. The most extreme situationists insist
that in the right circumstances, almost all of us might be led
to commit atrocities. ... What emerges is a clear challenge to the most ambitious
claims for situationism, and a more complicated understanding of
the relationship between individual dispositions and social
situations. And there is a final point. Zimbardo shows that the
very assumption of a particular social role automatically conveys
a great deal of information about appropriate behavior: consider
the roles of nurse, first officer, and prison guard. But social
roles are not fixed. Nurses and first officers need not think that
they should always follow doctors and captains, and prison guards
need not feel free to brutalize prisoners. Perhaps the largest
lesson of Zimbardo's experiment involves the importance of
ensuring that a constant sense of moral responsibility is taken to
be part of, rather than inconsistent with, a wide range of social
For a different perspective on the behavior of individuals under
certain conditions, including a predisposition to altruistic
behavior, see: "Parochial Altruism"
'... the notion that people might prefer to help strangers from
their own ethnic group over strangers from a different group ...' Olivia
Selfless Gene/The Atlantic/ October, 2007, Vol. 300, No. 3, pp.
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas State
University User Name and password are required for access.
Dostoevsky - Religion, Authority, Freedom, &
Individual Will Readings: Dostoevsky, The Grand Inquisitor Film: "The Brothers Karamazov"The Brothers Karamazov (1958)
New World at 75/The New Atlantis/No. 16, Spring 2007
"Huxley’s most famous novel, Brave New World, was
published in 1932, and the occasion of this seventy-fifth
anniversary should lead us to wonder about his peculiar
description of how we understand the future. We live in a time
of biotechnological leaps forward that have made the term “Brave
New World” almost a reflex for commentators worried we are
rushing headlong toward a sterilized post-human society,
engineered to joyless joy. It is easy to imagine that we see the
shadows of our society in Huxley’s vision of the future. But
could it be that our insistence on seeing Huxley’s book as an
exceedingly successful prophecy actually prevents us from
recognizing its real insight? Is there a way for us to
understand the book free of the great distorting influence of
our own times? We can do that only by reading the book on its
own terms, as its first readers did, and by letting ourselves be
guided by the literary, scientific, and cultural critics of
Huxley’s day. In doing so, we may glimpse afresh something of
the meaning of Brave New World in its author’s mind and
... This 'illusion of freedom' was cast into a clearer
light by a reviewer who discerned that the temptation to
sacrifice liberty to end suffering often becomes an attack on
the reality of the liberty itself. Rebecca West, a prominent
novelist and literary critic ... said Huxley had 'rewritten in terms of our age' Dostoevsky’s
famous parable of the Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov—a 'symbolic statement that every
generation ought to read afresh.' (boldface
By shifting the question from political control to personal
conscience, West’s reading anticipated the decentralized way
that many of the particular scientific and cultural furnishings
of Huxley’s world have made appearances in ours. ... the
separation of sex from procreation, and love from sex; the
consumption-saturated culture threatening to commodify the
consumers; the increasingly physico-chemical attempt to explain
and treat a troubled psyche—we did not need bureaucratic threats
or hypnopaedic repetitions to want these things, and in this
sense Huxley profoundly overestimated (or is it underestimated?)
mankind, and his book may, in the deepest sense, have gotten our
present all wrong. We chose these things ourselves, uncoerced by
terror or war or social engineers. They have been developed to
respond to real human hurts and desires; and, as might be
expected of human choices, the results and motives have been
text of Brave New
World is accessible on the Web @ this location.
2. Erich Fromm - Escape
From Freedom Readings: Fromm, Escape From Freedom
Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, & Appendix. Lakshmi
Mirror On the Web/The Nation/January 29, 2007, Vol.
Issue 4, p19-22, 4p. (pdf)
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas
State University User Name and password are required for access. Abstract:
The article discusses the obsession with being famous, a desire
shared by many of the generation born between 1970-2000, and
expressed through media such as MySpace.com, reality television,
and Internet blogging. Referred to as "micro-celebrity," the
author contends that the craze to be famous or recognized on a
mass scale is fueled by ego-centrism and self-focus instead of
Note Chaudry's observations on fame.
Simon May, "Why the power of cute is colonizing our world",
Aeon, July 3, 2019
From this essay: "Cute
is above all a teasing expression of the unclarity, uncertainty,
uncanniness and the continuous flux or ‘becoming’ that our era
detects at the heart of all existence, living and nonliving.
In the ever-changing styles and objects that exemplify it,
it is nothing if not transient, and it lacks any claim to
lasting significance. Plus it exploits the way that
indeterminacy, when pressed beyond a certain point, becomes
menacing – which is a reality that cute is able to render
beguiling precisely because it does so trivially, charmingly,
James B. Meigs, "A Gaslight Unto the Nations", Commentary,
From this essay:
"The word “gaslighting” has lately become an all-purpose term
of abuse in political arguments. Its journey from the pages of Psychology
Today to the flame wars of Twitter offers us a useful
perspective to examine the way our language is changing in this
age of polarization. Words are becoming weaponized, and the
old-fashioned idea that we can reach mutual understanding through
honest debate is breaking down. The excessive use of “gaslighting”
is a case study in how political speech is evolving from a
discourse of persuasion to one of demonization.
In this field of rhetorical combat, “gaslighting” is a subtle
but powerful weapon. When you accuse someone of gaslighting,
you’re not trying to debate them on the facts; you’re describing
their malevolent intentions. Those engaged in gaslighting
aren’t just wrong, or even simply lying, the word suggests;
they’re conducting an insidious campaign to undermine the judgment
and mental stability of their interlocutors. In other words,
gaslighters aren’t trying to convince us, they’re trying to
confuse us, even unhinge us." (boldface added here - not in
the original essay)
Leaks And Response Tested Obama/NYT February 03, 2008
"When residents in
Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the
Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of
its nuclear plants, the state’s freshman senator, Barack
Obama, took up their cause.
... Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and
federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require
all plant owners to notify state and local authorities
immediately of even small leaks.
... He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in
Iowa in December that it was the only nuclear legislation that
'I just did that last year', he said, to murmurs of approval.
... A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very
different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill,
even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a
hearing on it, Mr. Obama
eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate
Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed
language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance
to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of
... Those revisions propelled the bill through a crucial
committee. But, contrary to Mr. Obama’s comments in Iowa, it
ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate.
... Asked why Mr. Obama had cited it as an accomplishment while
campaigning for president, the campaign noted that after the
senator introduced his bill, nuclear plants started making such
reports on a voluntary basis. The campaign did not directly
address the question of why Mr. Obama had told Iowa voters that
the legislation had passed.
... But eventually, Mr. Obama agreed to rewrite the bill, and when
the environment committee approved it in September 2006, he and
his co-sponsors hailed it as a victory.
... In interviews over the past two weeks, Obama aides insisted
that the revisions did not substantively alter the bill. In fact,
it was left drastically different.
... In place of the straightforward reporting requirements was new
language giving the nuclear commission two years to come up with
its own regulations. The bill said that the commission “shall
consider” — not require — immediate public notification, and also
take into account the findings of a task force it set up to study
the tritium leaks. ...
... The rewritten bill also contained the new wording sought by
Exelon making it clear that state and local authorities would have
no regulatory oversight of nuclear power plants.
... In interviews last week, representatives of Exelon and the
nuclear commission said they were satisfied with the revised bill.
The Nuclear Energy Institute said it no longer opposed it but
wanted additional changes.
... The revised bill was never taken up in the full Senate, where
partisan parliamentary maneuvering resulted in a number of bills
being shelved before the 2006 session ended.
... Still, the legislation has
come in handy on the campaign trail. Last May, in response to questions about his
ties to Exelon, Mr. Obama wrote a letter to a Nevada newspaper
citing the bill as evidence that he stands up to powerful
... 'When I learned that radioactive tritium had leaked out of an
Exelon nuclear plant in Illinois,' he wrote, 'I led an effort in
the Senate to require utilities to notify the public of any
unplanned release of radioactive substances.'
... Last October, Mr. Obama reintroduced the bill, in its
rewritten form." (boldface added)
Yet the word nobody wants to own, the all-purpose put-down
of the political moment, has a meaningful, indeed proud,
heritage that hardly anyone seems to know or to honor. Only
within black church circles can one, to this day, still hear Come By Here with the
profundity that Mr. Gordon did almost a century ago."
Power of Political Pratfalls (includes images & videos)/NYT
October 13, 2008
"A bumbling president, a rube candidate, a greedy politician —
such are the caricatures of political life. Whether accurate or
not, they can be more powerful than any argument.
... Such is the strange
influence of caricature in politics. (boldface added)
... So what gives caricature its unusual power? Physically,
caricature typically takes a particular feature — a hairdo, a
verbal tic, a hand gesture, an accent — and exaggerates it, giving
it such prominence that we come to see the person in a new and
... The word comes from the Italian “caricare,” meaning “to
overload.” Some characteristic is heavily piled on: the elongated
nose, the prominent belly, the bulbous eyes. Caricature seems to
have its earliest associations with portraits that showed human
subjects to be transformed animals. This can be just a trick of
perception, but the art comes from connecting physical
characteristics to character ... For a great caricaturist,
physiognomy is a reflection of the hidden soul: by showing us
something exaggerated, something overlooked is revealed.
... That is also what gives caricature a polemical role in
politics. Caricature characterizes and criticizes. While it can
also distort and misrepresent, it claims to disclose a political
physiognomy, bringing its contours to the surface.
... Of course caricature is never truly accurate; its job is to
exaggerate, it dispenses with detail. This also makes it immune
from easy challenge. A caricature bypasses argument. And now that
pictures have become central to political life, caricatures have
grown even stronger, and caricatured images are joined by
caricatures of ideas."
"As ratings soared, George Will summed up the rhapsodic critical
response, calling Burns' series a 'masterpiece of national
... refashioned the history of the Civil War into a
semimythical narrative, one of collective sacrifice in the name of
freedom and national unity.
... Burns performs an impressive kind of alchemy. Working in the
soft glow of nostalgia, he manages to take a knotty and complex
history of violence, racial conflict, and disunion and turn it
into a compelling drama of national unity.
... For all its appeal, however, The Civil War is a deeply
misleading and reductive film that often loses historical reality
in the mists of Burns' sentimental vision and the romance of
Foote's anecdotes. Watching the film, you might easily forget that
one side was not fighting for, but against the very things that
Burns claims the war so gloriously achieved. Confederates, you
might need reminding after seeing it, were fighting not for the
unification of the nation, but for its dissolution. Moreover, they
were fighting for their independence from the United States in the
name of slavery and the racial hierarchy that underlay it."
2. "The Manchurian Candidate" Susan L. Carruthers, "The
Manchurian Candidate (1962) & The Cold War Brainwashing
Scare", The Historical Journal Of Film, Radio & Television,
March 1998, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p75, 20 pages
Texas State University Library permalink. A valid Texas State
University User Name and password are required for access.
The classic film on conspiracy thinking referred to by both
the left and the right. "Brainwashed" Americans held as
prisoners of war by the North Koreans and others during the
Koran War of 1950-1953 return to America where one of them has
been programmed to commit assassination. See this review of the film "The Manchurian Candidate"
(1962). This article by Susan L. Carruthers
War of the Worlds - Two Perspectives
Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey, "What War of the Worlds
did", Aeon, November 26, 2018
From this essay by Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey :
"Our loose equivalent to radio is the internet, and
specifically social media. As radio turned reader to listener
and changed a journalist’s ‘because I said so’ to an
announcer’s ‘hear it for yourself’, so too did social media
change modern journalism’s claims to truth. The new world is
threatened by tribalism, and we tend to shunt news down silos
The new trajectory changed news from an informative tool to an
expressive one, and upended older reader-journalist
relationships that looked more like a student-teacher
relationship, albeit one entered into by choice. Though
readers could always share stories, social media propelled the
act. Readers can share stories because they feel true, and
lend those stories emotional rather than factual force."
Michael J. Socolow, Jefferson Pooley, "The Myth of the War
of the War of the Worlds Panic", Slate, October
Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio program did not
touch off nationwide hysteria. Why does the legend persist?
From this essay by Michael J.
Socolow, Jefferson Pooley:
"Why is this myth so alluring—why does it persist? The
answer is complicated, most likely reflecting everything from
the structure of our commercial broadcasting system and of our
federal regulation, as well as our culture’s skepticism about
the mass audience and the fear that always accompanies the
excitement of new media. Even today, broadcast networks must
convince advertisers that they retain commanding powers over
their audiences. As such, CBS has regularly celebrated the War
of the Worlds broadcast and its supposed effect on the
public. In 1957, Studio One, a CBS anthology series,
dramatized the panic as “The
Night America Trembled,” and when the network celebrated
its 75th anniversary in 2003, War of the
Worlds was a noted
highlight. On the other side of the coin, federal
regulators must still persuade politicians that there exists
an important protective role for the guardians of the
airwaves. For both broadcasters and regulators, War of
the Worlds provides excellent evidence to justify their
claims about media power.
... Hadley Cantril's book
"validated the popular memory of the event. He gave academic
credence to the panic and attached real numbers to it.
He remains the only source with academic legitimacy who
claims there was a sizable panic. Without this validation,
the myth likely would not be in social psychology and mass
communication textbooks, as it still is today—pretty much
every high schooler and liberal arts undergraduate runs
across it at some point. (Both the American Experience
and Radiolab segments rely on his work.) Though
you may have never heard of Cantril, the War of the
Worlds myth is very much his legacy.
But the myth also persists because it
so perfectly captures our unease with the media’s power over our
lives. “The ‘panic broadcast’ may be as much a function of
fantasy as fact,” writes Northwestern’s Jeffrey
Sconce in Haunted
Media, suggesting that the panic myth is a function
of simple displacement: It’s not the Martians invading Earth
that we fear, he argues; it’s ABC, CBS, and NBC invading and
colonizing our consciousness that truly frightens us. To Sconce,
the panic plays a “symbolic function” for American culture—we
retell the story because we need a cautionary tale about the
power of media. And that need has hardly abated: Just as radio
was the new medium of the 1930s, opening up exciting new
channels of communication, today the Internet provides us with
both the promise of a dynamic communicative future and dystopian
fears of a new form of mind control; lost privacy; and attacks
from scary, mysterious forces. This is the fear that animates
our fantasy of panicked hordes—both then and now."
3. "The Crucible" - A Favorite Of Many Secondary School
Teachers, (& Of The Left) Video: The
"Why I Wrote The Crucible:
An Artist's Answer to Politics", The NewYorker, October 21& 28, 1996.
Miller's essay can be accessed @ this
Erik Linstrum, "The empire dreamt
back", Aeon, December 4, 2017
this essay: From this essay: "...
lacking the mechanisms that register public opinion in
democratic societies – elections, protests, press
criticism – and confronting immense cultural differences
to boot, British imperial rulers fretted over what
Africans, Asians and West Indians were thinking. The
British sensed their ignorance, and they felt vulnerable,
a position that made the tools of psychoanalysis
irresistible. The trouble was not that these tools failed
on their own terms, but that they failed to tell imperial
rulers what they wanted to hear."
Pankaj Mishra, "How the British invented Hinduism", New
Statesman, August 26, 2002
"By reviving the
Hindu religion, the middle classes of India hope to turn their
country into a world power."
This article by Pankaj Mishra should be read in connection with
viewing the film "A Passage To India". It should be noted
that the main character in this film and in the novel on which it
is based is, in fact, Muslim. Video: A
Passage To India (1985)
Based on the novelE.
Forster/A Passage To India (1924)
For an interesting example of early 20th century
European fiction which reflects images of the Orient see: Louis
& Edited by E.M.Beekman-Translated From Dutch)/The Hidden
Force (Univ. Of Mass. 1985) In Beekman's
introduction to this novel written in 1900 about the Dutch
colonial experience in Indonesia, he quotes the Dutch author,
Couperus, a romantic of his time who believed in supernatural
forces: "I believe that benovolent and hostile forces float around
us right through our ordinary, everyday existence. I believe
that the Oriental, no matter where he comes from can command more
power over these forces than the Westerner who is absorbed by his
sobriety, business and making money."
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