Saturday, July 24, 2010

Are antisemites mad?

Shrinkwrapped is a very thoughtful blog by a conservative-oriented psychoanalyst in New York. From recollection, the author is Jewish. It is a generally very good blog well worth reading for those of us who are particularly interested in the psychology of politics -- which is my field of academic research.

Recently, Glenn Reynolds linked to an article by Roddy Boyd ("Killing Jews For Fun and For Profit: The Continuing American Adventures of Arab Bank") documenting a court case against an Arab Bank which illustrates how even supposedly rational and reasonable institutions, once in thrall to antisemitism, end up behaving irrationally and self destructively. Shrinkwrapped has responded with an article titled "Anti-Semitism as Thought Disorder".

To be a little crass about it, Shrinkwrapped argues that antisemitism sends you mad. That argument is of course not a new one. There are several versions of it and "The authoritarian personality" version of 1950 is perhaps the best known.

It is however basically an "armchair" theory. As far as I can tell, the people putting it forward have little if any personal knowledge of actual antisemites. For some reason, however, I have always had the compulsion to test theory against reality -- which usually does nothing for my popularity. And much of my research career was devoted to testing inferences derived from "The authoritarian personality" theory.

Readers who know my skeptical stance on global warming and health science will not be surprised to hear that I regularly found inferences from the theory not to be supported by the data.

And one of the things I did was to apply the characteristic methodology of anthropology to an examination of antisemitism. Anthropologists have the view that you can never understand a group "from the outside" -- You have to join the group and become accepted into it before you will ever have any chance of understanding it. I did that with the neo-Nazi group in my city. In other words I got out of my armchair and had a close-up look at what I was talking about. My resultant observations were published in The Jewish Journal of Sociology.

And what I found was actually something extremely common -- perfectly normal sane people who had just got hold of a wrong theory -- not unlike most Global Warmists today and not unlike the hordes of grade school teachers who think that just looking at words without any mention of phonics is a good way for kids to learn to read.

All three theories -- Jewish evil, global warming and "look and learn" have been catastrophic in different ways and illustrate the importance of getting your theories right. They also, sadly, illustrate the reluctance of people to let go of a theory they have accepted when confronted with evidence that the theory concerned is wrong.

Scientists are in fact some of the worst people at that. They cling to the theories of their youth through thick and thin and it is only the arising of a younger generation of scientists with more open minds that allows scientific thinking to advance.

So I disagree with Shrinkwrapped in seeing antisemites as being in some way psychologically abnormal. I think they are all too normal in fact. And it is precisely their normality which makes me despair of changing their views.

So in the end I am more pessimistic about antisemites than Shrinkwrapped is. He seems to think that psychological "help" could change their views whereas I doubt that anything will change their views. Israel can kill the antisemites that surround it but it will not change their minds.


Shrinkwrapped has offered some polite comments on my post above. I am a bit amused by his heading. He uses the rare word "emended" -- which refers to minor textual corrections. But his post is much more extensive than that. In a nutshell, he says that antisemitism can drive a whole society mad even if all the individuals in it are sane.

That seems a stretch to me but I will think about it. I tend to agree with Margaret Thatcher's thoroughly conservative observation that there is no such thing as society, only individual people.


The Democrats' War on America's West

Michelle Malkin

"Why do they hate us?" It's a burning question on the minds of border-dwelling taxpayers, small-business owners, farmers, and Rocky Mountain oil and gas industry workers suffering under punitive Democrat policies. Eighteen months into the Barack Obama administration, the war on the American West is in full swing.

The first battlefront: immigration. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats rejected a GOP amendment banning the use of federal funds to participate in any litigation against the new Arizona immigration enforcement law.

"Our federal government should be doing its job to secure our borders rather than trying to bully and intimidate the people of Arizona," argued Republican amendment sponsor Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. "We should not be suing and really hassling the people of Arizona for doing what we should be doing here, and that's protecting the citizenry."

All but five Senate Democrats (Indiana's Evan Bayh took a pass and didn't vote) sided with the anti-Arizona Obama administration -- and against not only a majority of Arizonans, but a majority of Americans who support the state's effort to restore order on the chaotic southern border and protect American workers facing double-digit unemployment.

Several House Democrats have actively lobbied to boycott Arizona and crush its economy -- most notably, southern Arizona's own Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva, who urged civic, religious and political groups to take their convention dollars elsewhere.

"Do not do business with this state," Grijalva told open-borders zealots bent on punishing law-abiding citizens to "send a message."

For its part, the Obama Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has targeted Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio for more than a year over his strict enforcement policies against illegal alien criminals. The hell-bent Civil Rights Division is helmed by veteran illegal immigration advocate Thomas Perez, who has lobbied for driver's licenses, in-state tuition discounts and blanket amnesty for millions of border-jumpers, visa overstayers and deportation fugitives.

Arizona's neighbor to the north, Utah, is under fire by a different set of left-wing bureaucrats. When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar isn't busy destroying jobs through his radical offshore drilling moratorium, he's been blocking onshore development and wreaking havoc on the Beehive State's energy industry.

Last week, Salazar defended pulling 77 oil lease contracts granted in the final days of the George W. Bush administration. Salazar's inspector general concluded that there was no evidence of any rush to auction off the parcels -- as baselessly claimed by environmental groups and Salazar himself. In fact, the leases were granted only after seven full years of rigorous study and debate.

That makes two Salazar job-destroying bans based off bogus eco-claims. (Remember: Loathsome cowboy Salazar was behind the shameless doctoring of a scientific report to bolster the Obama administration's devastating offshore drilling ban.)

Uintah County, Utah, officials have sued the Interior Department over the rescinded leases, which have cost the state untold millions of dollars and countless jobs in a tough economy. Not to mention the court expenses, legal morass and regulatory uncertainty.

Other Western states are reeling as a result of the Democrats' eco-radicalism -- and the rest of America is paying a high price, too. Salazar was a leading opponent of oil shale development when he served in the U.S. Senate for Colorado.

There are an estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil shale in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming alone -- enough to potentially free us from Saudi oil dependence. Yet as Obama's interior secretary, Salazar has wielded his power to halt plans to lease oil shale rights in the West. In addition, Obama's Bureau of Land Management is dragging its feet on more than $100 million in unissued oil and gas leases in Wyoming. These resources remain untapped thanks to militant greenies who pay lip service to energy independence while blocking all practical means of achieving it.

At a partisan rally on Monday to crusade for endless unemployment insurance benefits extensions, President Obama lectured Republicans to "stop holding workers hostage to politics." Speak for yourself, pal.



BrookesNews Update

Obama's policies are a recipe for economic stagnation : Given present conditions there is no way that Obama's policies could restore full employment without cutting real wages. And surging inflation is the only means by which he can do that, assuming Americans would stand for it. Even if full employment was restored Obama's policies would suck the life out of the economy leaving the vast majority of Americans with little hope of bettering their lives
The Australian economy is slowing, not accelerating : The Australian economy is not as healthy as it looks. Last October UBS economists predicted that the Australian economy would start accelerating in the second half of 2010. I was highly dubious then and more so now. Before long I expect certain economists to be eating crow, even if it will be in private
Why capital gains taxes retard economic growth : Capital gains taxes erect a significant barrier to the movement of savings from old established companies to newer and more innovative enterprises. In fact, they become a tax on social mobility, as does a highly progressive income tax structure
Don't believe the MSM when it says Cuba's prisons are emptying : The corrupt media are at it again. This time major outlets are covering up for Castro's Gulag. Instead of reporting on his victims these lying leftwing hacks are praising this sadistic thug for releasing a handful of political prisoners
It's the savings that fuels economic growth - not government spending : Since early 2001 the US pool of funding has been subjected to the most vicious attack in the form of the aggressive lowering of interest rates. Yet despite all the monetary pumping and the aggressive lowering of interest rates the economy has continued to struggle
Hating Jews :Jews worldwide are again under attack. The Holocaust and 6 million slaughtered Jews have been forgotten. It now appears that history is on the way to repeating itself, aided and abetted by the world press
Where does oil really come from? It remains, however, only an article of faith that oil and natural gas are biological in origin; scientific proof is absent. Recently, information from the Gulf of Mexico has caused geologists to rethink the origins of these so-called fossil fuels



NYT not broke yet: "The New York Times Co. reported a slight increase in quarterly revenue overnight as double-digit growth in digital advertising helped offset a continued slide in print advertising. The Times Co., which owns The Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune and other newspapers in addition to the flagship New York Times, said revenue rose 1.2 per cent in the second quarter to $US589.6 million ($660 million) over a year ago. Net profit declined to $US32 million from $US39 million a year earlier when the media giant posted a large tax benefit. "These positive results continued to build on the momentum of the past few quarters as the company was able to increase revenues and decrease operating costs," Times Co. president and chief executive Janet Robinson said. [Looks like it paid off to fire all those journalists]

A real Leftist conspiracy -- among journalists: "Journolist e-mails obtained by The Daily Caller reveal what anybody with two neurons to rub together already knew: Professional liberals don't like Republicans and do like Democrats. They can be awfully smug and condescending in their sense of intellectual and moral superiority. In 2008, participants shared talking points about how to shape coverage to help Obama. They tried to paint any negative coverage of Obama's racist and hateful pastor, Jeremiah Wright, as out of bounds. Journalists at such "objective" news organizations as Newsweek, Bloomberg, Time and The Economist joined conversations with open partisans about the best way to criticize Sarah Palin."

Deliberate lies by mainstream journalists: " What is surprising is the attempt by at least one high profile lefty to smear the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes and former Bush aide Karl Rove as "racist" Former New Republic scribbler Spencer Ackerman, who is now with Wired, proposed the manufacture of just to such an attack on Barnes and Bush to the JournoList's annointed when the Jeremiah Wright story exploded in 2008. Ackerman admitted on JournoList that he wasn't interested in whether Barnes or Rove were in fact rascist, just that the charge was useful at that moment in time."

US House panel charges Rangel with ethics misdeeds: "It looks like Rep. Charlie Rangel will finally get his day in court. A House panel said Thursday that its investigative subcommittee charged the Harlem Democrat with multiple ethics violations, and it will form an ‘adjudicatory subcommittee’ to weigh the matter. ‘I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media,’” Rangel said in a statement."

US cities at long last begin grasping the benefits of privatization: "Facing a budgetary shortfall of between $56 billion to $86 billion over the next two years, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Tamara Audi (’Cities Rent Police, Janitors to Save Cash’) documents efforts by municipalities across the nation to stanch red ink by outsourcing the ‘public’ services they no longer can afford to supply. It’s about time.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)



Neil said...

"...there is no such thing as society, only individual people."

I see. And there is no such thing as a forest, only individual trees.

Neil Ferguson
Yuma, Arizona

JR said...

The point is that a forest is only a collection of trees

Or do you have an alternative suggestion?

Neil said...

So a forest is purely a plurality of trees? No. I will always admire Ms. Thatcher, but the truth of that particular aphorism is metaphorically about as deep as a bumper sticker. And it's about as hard to detach oneself take THAT analogy one step too far.

Neil Ferguson
Yuma, AZ

JR said...

You still haven't offered your alternative suggestion

Neil said...

And what [has Roman society] ever given us in return?
The aqueduct.
Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That's true.
Masked Activist:
And the sanitation!
Oh yes... sanitation, Reg, you remember what the city used to be like.
All right, I'll grant you that the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done...
And the roads...
(sharply) Well yes obviously the roads... the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads...
Another Masked Activist:
Other Masked Voices:
Medicine... Education... Health...
Yes... all right, fair enough...
Activist Near Front:
And the wine...
Oh yes! True!
Yeah. That's something we'd really miss if the Romans left, Reg.
Masked Activist at Back:
Public baths!
And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now.
Yes, they certainly know how to keep order... (general nodding)... let's face it, they're the only ones who could in a place like this.

(more general murmurs of agreement)
All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?
Brought peace!
(very angry, he's not having a good meeting at all) What!? Oh... (scornfully) Peace, yes... shut up!

JR said...

I am a bit puzzled by the above comment

Roman society did none of those things

Romans did

JR said...

In fact 99% of Romans were not involved in creating those things

Only a few Roman individuals were