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Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM
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Why do otherwise apparently rational people get caught up in movements that are fraudulent?


Full quote: Why do otherwise apparently rational people get caught up in movements that are objectively fraudulent?

Such a strong and concise analysis. Please read the whole article at EmptyWheel for context.

graham firchlis says:
December 23, 2021 at 8:41 pm

“The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths.”

Alexander Pushkin, as quoted in ‘Gooseberries’ by Anton Chekov

Why do otherwise apparently rational people get caught up in movements that are objectively fraudulent? What drives the Radical Reactionary mass movement? How has it sustained from the 1860s Confederacy through to the present Republican Party?

It is tempting to lay it all on bigotry, of all types, a unifying Other that provides a common ground for conversation and self-affirmation. But the aggregating factors are more complex, an evil brew of victimization, martyrdom, religiosity and abject fear of a coming oppressive force against which they feel individually helpless but collectively powerful.

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer is as relevant as ever. His application of principles focused on anti-establishment movements, but the same apply to the Radical Reactionary movement we face today. As useful as he is in understanding extant movements, Hoffer’s contentions can be beneficial for building a sustainable progressive movement. If you haven’t read True Believer in a while, or at all, couldn’t be more timely.

Drilling down, what is inherent in each of that leaves us susceptible to seduction by fabulists? What could drive human beings to view others so hatefully, to behave so cruelly? Another former prof asserted it stems from our inherent psychological isolation and inability to come to terms with the inevitability of death. I highly recommend Ernest Becker’s first book, Beyond Alienation, for a start.

Also worth reconsideration is Prof. Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Experiment. Empowered with absolute authority, inhumane cruelty quickly came to dominate the behaviors of not just the study subjects but Zimbardo himself. His intellect and stature as an esteemed psychologist did not shield him from the corruption of absolute power.

Which leads us by bend of bay and sweep of shore to the story of Matthew Greene, a combat vet with PTSD and a life in two worlds, at once a mild-mannered, respected creative artist and businessman as well as a violent insurrectionist. As terrifying as they are in aggregate, on an individual basis I find thier stories to be predominantly sad.


Why are so many DU posts just links to twitter? This has increased greatly recently.

I have a twitter account but really don't want that organization to know that I am interested in a story posted on DU. But many people have been simply posting a title and a twitter link as their full story.

Twitter just recently changed CEOs and probably changed its company structure, motivations, etc. I don't know that I can trust whoever now owns them.

Does DU encourage this type of linkage? If so, why?

**** Note that my issue happened because of a privacy blocker add-on. See post below. ****

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