Tuesday, June 04, 2013

National anger management

Yesterday I published a post which implicitly endorsed David Neiwert's conclusion that the segment of the U.S. rightwing that is most prone to violence -- the doers with guns, not so much the big talkers -- display recognizable personality types:

… contentious, prone to anger, hypercritical, paranoid, grandiose, egocentric people …

Neiwert produces a boatload of evidence for his catalogue of common features in the psyches of such dangerous people.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press story making the rounds describes the reflections going on in "national security" circles in the U.S. and Britain in the wake of the "lone wolf" terrorist eruptions at the Boston Marathon and in London. These seem to have involved isolated individuals who acted without being part of any particular network. Existing spook efforts are designed to look for cells and organizations; they don't have an ready-made tactics for the apparent new sort of threat.

“No reliable psychological test or checklist has been devised that can predict when such an individual may tip over into actually taking violent action,” [David] Omand [Britain’s first security and intelligence coordinator] said in an emailed response to questions from The Associated Press. “Short of a police state on East German lines the number of such individuals who can be subject to very intensive surveillance sufficient to detect preparations for violent action is but a small proportion of the total — and of course individuals can flip quickly even where they have been checked out previously.”

The thing is, most of us don't want to live in a society like East Germany where nearly everyone was spying on everyone else under coercion from an all pervasive state. And in our social-media fishbowl, we don't want any authority using its Big Data to assess all of us.

Furthermore, none of us much trust the state to pick the right people to focus on to "protect us" -- people on the right want black, brown, and yellow folks, especially Muslims, stalked by the authorities. I'd like to see someone taking a close look at angry white loud mouths. At least I have that fantasy when I'm not thinking that too many members of too many "law enforcement" outfits resemble the set I feel threatened by.

Maybe we all need to get used the fact that nothing can completely protect us from occasional breakthroughs of the crazy -- but that our society needs an anger management commitment to learn to dial our conflicts down.

What might a national anger management project look like? Interesting question.

Politicians would need to set an example by at least pretending to work for peace and prosperity for all instead of measuring their success by how how well they steer the goods of the nation to their contributors.

And we the people would have to try to aspire that minimum standard in our pols. Sincerity is not required.

It should be worrying that this seems impossible, merely pie-in-the-sky, even when I just attempt the thought experiment.


Rain Trueax said...

What I see as an increasing concern is the rise of rage on the far left. There is a view out there that our country is the Third Reich and government evil which is where the tendency to eventually go violent begins. When both extremes project that there is no hope what does that do to the weaker minds in their movements? I feel that there is a kind of zeitgeist that is sweeping over the world which makes me wonder who benefits from this and then we find who is behind it as it seems beyond coincidence when I hear far left and far right espousing the same fear and rage.

janinsanfran said...

Hi Rain. This country is not like the Third Reich. That I'll say confidently having lately been doing the intellectual work to find out. The hallmark of the Nazi regime was efficient racial brutality. We have disturbing qualities, but we don't achieve that.

I don't experience much rage on the far left -- but maybe I just discount the Black Bloc set. I think they need more kindergarten. More I see resignation and confusion among people who have been crushed by economic redistribution upwards and who have lost hope.

Asking "who benefits?" always seems right to me. And I keep looking for answers.

Rain Trueax said...

I agree, Jan, and when people lose faith in the main media, when they go to localized groups to get 'truth' then it gets particularly dangerous, and I do think this is happening right now on the right and the left. The mainstream media has deserved some of this as they are being taken over by corporate interests who push the story to their own benefit-- where dollars are a factor in what they cover.

This is particularly worrisome with the recent attempt to take over all those newspapers by the Koch brothers. when that happens, how do you find real truth-- the kind that might not make you comfortable but that is based on facts? We can find our own truths for what's out our backdoor and maybe within a certain number of miles but beyond that we count on a fair and impartial news system and that is what is being threatened

janinsanfran said...

A friend wrote a comment at Facebook that I'm bringing over here:

Heidi wrote: "We need to do more as a nation to build a sense of community. Another thing these violent individuals have in common is a lack of meaningful connection in society. They feel rejected, excluded, & unable to succeed in socially acceptable ways. Unfortunately, the current trends in our nation are focused on division, exclusion, and judgment of others who are seen as different. Until that changes, I don't know what we can do to prevent more and more of these horrible events. The nation as a whole has to wake up and start focusing on our common humanity. Stop hating each other & start showing compassion, especially toward the stranger, the wayfarer, & those who are struggling."

Rain Trueax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rain Trueax said...

I removed that comment because I said it wrong. What i meant to say was-- That's a good comment to bring to your blog, Jan. Interestingly I wrote something like it for my Saturday blog. It was based around a link which led to my thoughts on what we can personally do, one thing was the friendly smile or wave to others we come in contact with. Being generous with thank yous. We are in a very rude and nasty time and sometimes to speak kindly takes a lot of deep breaths first ;) That is assuming the one saying something rude isn't also being a bigot or demeaning others. What a time we live in.

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