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  1. Hello those interested in politics and a better understanding of our world. If you have 3 minutes, please fill out this anonymous survey for my undergraduate research and post it everyone. More participants means better results. I need participants from across the U.S. Thank you for your time! https://goo.gl/forms/Haxn5EuOmHlAqsPw2
  2. As liberals, there are few more shifts in society more disconcerting than ethno-nationalism. It represents the truest and most antithetical denial of our core philosophy that all humans are one species, and that if we do not work together to make a better future, there will be no better future. The oppositional nature of ethno-nationalism is clear enough that I don't believe I need to explicitly explain why. However, the question remains why individuals seek refuge in a philosophy that is by all metrics historically disastrous, and antithetical to human rights. And the answer, is unsurprisingly enough, not a disagreement with the philosophy of liberalism itself, but rather a rejection of those forwarding the philosophy, and by proxy all that they represent. But before freaking out about us wandering down the historical descent toward nationalism, why not stop and think about the reasons so many have rejected the core philosophy of freedom, liberty and universal equality. What could make an individual who hopes for a better tomorrow, reject these things? Than answer is quite simple. The symptoms are many-fold but the cause is not. Security. That is the need that drives the rise of nationalism. The promise of a powerful central parental figure who can guide the nation through uncertainty. In the case of the state of the current West, that uncertainty arises from two primary sources, which in turn have their own root cause. It is not the philosophy of liberalism itself that is antithetical to those being swayed by nationalism. In fact most of them do not know the dictionary definition of the word liberal, and even when shown they say that it's simply a lie. Because they agree as human beings with the core principles. Their rejection of liberalism in favor of nationalism is much simpler, the perception of social 'elites' and their rejection. And with this rejection comes the rejection of all things associated with them. Including their philosophy. Nationalism is a symptom of the disease, not its cause, and simply fighting the symptoms will only lead us to our deathbed. The first root cause of nationalism is psycho-economic. The perception of difficulty of meaningful employment in a field of your choice. The need to work is a fundamental human one, but a fragile one. It sits at the top of Maslow's Hierarchy (crude as it may be) among the category of self-actualization. Individuals value themselves based upon their contribution to society. However, despite the overall increase in employment, there is a vast divide between the majority of Americans scraping by working long hours at less than a living wage in menial labor they despise. Similarly, this is fundamentally why any policy of entitlement is fundamentally flawed and creates the breeding ground for further nationalist sympathies. Statistics regarding those receiving benefits show clearly that benefits do not increase faith in the system, but rather see the necessity of their benefits as a symptom of its failure. This is borne out by the level of vitriol toward entitlement itself from those in red states who benefit the most from it. Paired with the unrest caused by the death of meaningful employment that has occurred on our watch, the situation is further exacerbated by the sense of the unsettling of social norms. Though the changes may seem to those who are educated, both reasonable and essential, most citizens lack the education and background to grasp these seemingly self-evident concepts. As a result there are vast portions of the populace who see the adoption of secular and humanistic philosophies at the core of liberalism as a threat to tradition and societal norms. And the fundamental nature of human response to being told they are wrong means that unless they arrive at such realizations themselves, any attempt to dissuade them will be met by rejection. How can we turn back the an enemy that rises on a tide of fear and rejects sound argument? By treating the fundamental root causes. Until every American is guaranteed meaningful employment, rather than entitlement benefits, the psycho-economic base condition will remain. The argument that the elderly and disabled cannot work is fundamentally flawed. All individuals who can breathe or reason can work, and find work that they are capable of and enjoy fundamentally fulfilling. It is *our* failing that rather than *create* an environment where employment is made available to all, even those who require fundamental allowances for their own physical conditions, we instead inculcate a psychology of guilt and self-shame in those we refuse to allow to participate in our economy via a meaningful remunerative job. In the face of the dual forces of physical hardship in the form of vast poverty in our world, with 7 individuals possessing 50% of the world's wealth, combined with the psychological hardship of the trivialization of the meaningfulness of work, it creates the environment of instability and psychological vulnerability that provides fertile ground for the seeds of Nationalism. The second factor in its rise occurs when those seeds are planted, namely the rejection of the social philosophy of the perceived 'elites'. The reason such vitriol toward the concept of social justice arises derives entirely from the perception that it is the philosophy of liberalism at fault for their plight. Regardless of whether or not they understand what the word liberal even means. They simply see gays, and trans people, and affirmative action as concepts of an ambiguous threatening 'other' that seeks to supplant them and subjugate them. And we have *facilitated* this view by our insistence on legal regulation rather than social inculcation. We have created a society of separation rather than integration. African Americans associate with African Americans, gays with the gay community, etc. It's a fundamental human reflex, but one that hinges entirely upon the concept of community. How many of your friends are of a similar ethnicity, gender, sexual flexibility, or economic status? And as a result of this, many of those that liberals seek inclusion for on a legal and governmental level, have only suffered more severe segregation. Our problem is not systemic, it is social. Our attempt to force systemic change without addressing the underlying psychological mechanisms which govern the sense of 'otherness' has resulted in a perception that we are systemically enforcing a new social order that seeks to undermine and replace traditional values. These 'traditional values' wrong as they may be, are the ultimate seat of security in times of instability and fear. So that is what the disenfranchised turn to when they lack the background required to reject such philosophies, or are inherently victimized by them. These problems are fundamental structural ones, not with our philosophy, but with our execution of it. We have permitted the perpetuation of a system that is hostile to meaningful remunerative employment. We have permitted the perpetuation of a system of academic and intellectual have and have nots. We have created this upwelling of nationalism, not by our core philosophies, which are true and just, but our *permissiveness* of methodologies that only serve to facilitate vast portions of the populace seeking refuge in a philosophy that they *know* is immoral, yet so long as they can provide internally (if not externally) consistent justification for their beliefs, they cannot discard them. As such the only solutions to the Nationalist upwelling taking the world by storm are twofold. The end of the economic structures that render meaningful and remunerative employment impossible, and the facilitation of adoption of rational approaches to the treatment of sapient beings via the only known method of such, diverse, inclusive and continual education. And these are the biggest two points that we as the liberal movement have failed Americans in. By our embrasure of the anti-capitalist corporatism, we have disenfranchised the common worker, and created a class of those who cannot find personal fulfillment in labor due to either the sequestering of such individuals in entitlement programs, rather than facilitating employment of their choice, or who are not privileged with the education and *inclusion* in a diverse community that is available to those they perceive as 'elites'. These are just the thoughts of my recent studies into the historical and psycho-economic and psycho-social roots of nationalism, as they've been repeated, nearly verbatim, each time it has arisen. The solutions themselves may seem impossible, but they are also quite simple, and in my opinion the only hope of the liberal movement to reverse the rising tide. Otherwise our movement will be destroyed beneath it. I think I might create a topic on the available solutions, if there is interest at a later point. But for now, these are my thoughts, and I'm curious how well they align with the insights of others in our community.
  3. As a neuroscientist and psychologist, with a very deep interest in world issues, I am astonished and overwhelmed by what I see happening right now in our world. Last year, when I discovered that Donald Trump was running for president, I knew right away what kind of people he would appeal to: people who watched his show, The Apprentice. Most rational people, of course, didn't think much of Trump, but when he began picking up steam, and I paid attention to what I myself was feeling when I watched him, I knew right away that letting a celebrity run for president was dangerous. My field of interest is traumatology - an interdisciplinary field that includes interpersonal and relational psychoanalysis, affective neuroscience, and developmental psychobiology. Also, in the last 5 years, I have been deeply involved in writing a book that seeks to show how consciousness emerges as a function of interpersonal experiences of enlivenment - enlivenment being the "selective factor" upon the organization of the biodynamism of the Human organism, and thus, the very property that generates large brains. With this idea in mind - enlivenment - I saw Donald Trump as tremendously and hugely dangerous. Again, I simply consulted my own feelings after Trump spoke: a sort of primitive and primal "excitement" emerged in me that had everything to do with the way I experienced Donald Trump in my past: my brain didn't forget Trump, and replied with a "knowledge" that implied a personal relationship to him. Granted, this was of feeling was limited to those times when he wasn't saying evil, crazy or mendacious things - but what is this filtering process but my own education, embodied within my actual neural structure, "inhibiting" the flow of perception when I hear something that doesn't make sense i.e. is related to actions, behaviors, and attitudes, that I know lead to suffering. I then thought to myself: thus, my education has structured my brain - generated more synapses, more myelination, and thus, greater 'frontal' control of subcortical, basal-ganglia dynamics, allowing me to maintain a "coherent picture" that doesn't put myself at odds with the other Humans I live around. A quick aside on the basal ganglia: this structure evolved in primitive fish as a way to propel movement to a desired object. These pathways are "dopaminergic" i.e. excitatory, and designed to get the organism moving to or away. Overtime, the basal ganglia split into a ventral (bottom) and dorsal (top) aspect, with the ventral portion dealing with 'raw desire' i.e. propelling movement, and the higher portion (caudate nucleus, and putamen) prompting the lower portion into certain rhythmic and controlled patterns - which basically correspond to a learned habit. If Humans do not regulate the flow of their affects - or feelings in their body - the frontal region of their brain, the orbitofrontal cortex, literally begins to recede in volume: in neuroscience language "if you do not use it, you lose it". Now, we must be honest: the brains of most average people - manual laborers - is not sufficiently developed to understand or even appreciate the concepts and principles that make democracy possible: indeed, as John Oliver said "a serial liar has won", and the media, ever complacent in their phony role of being the "neutral moderator", has allowed a situation to emerge that poses much greater problems and "cons" than the pros of getting more viewers. It may even be naive to think that a media channel could be this unaware about the effects they were creating. In any case, without reading, mediating, or any sort of mental activity that entails the generation and complexification of mental contents, it is simply impossible for a person to understand a complex discussion on CNN or MSNBC when in their actual living, they never encounter conversations with this sort of complexity, and thus, because of this, do not possess the neural or mental structural requirements to "frame" the semantics of a political discussion in an intelligent and coherent way. This is the reality: education has been used by capitalists to undermine democracy. That's it. By industrializing and being "pragmatic" - as if pragmatic wasn't a term that conceals a substrate set of feelings and values i.e. an ideology, education has mass-produced unregulated minds that find their meaning and enlivenment through the following: football, spike TV, internet pornography, nihilistic tv shows: think of their brains as "containers" for these feelings and images, and it becomes emintently understandable how Donald Trump won. My point about enlivenment earlier needs to be taken very seriously: we are LITERALLY constructed by the forms of feelings we experience in our interpersonal relations; enlivening interpersonal experiences generate real physical effects in the brain which would be recorded by EEGs as a spike in electromagnetic and chemical energy. To put this into perspective, an "authoritarian" father type (as Lakoff describes) becomes not just a salience to a person who has grown in such a context, but a structural need in their meaning-making: if you tell them otherwise, you prompt their physical amydala to signal "error", because the narrative or concepts you describe "contradict" and so imperil, what for them is an existential necessity: a left-brain defensive process, beginning in the left amygdala, a frame enters into their consciousness, which "re-establishes" their coherent narrative. We live in a monstrously dissociative society - and this is the crux of the problem. Person A makes a point, and then person B ignores it, and says something that makes sense to him. No actual diologue happens here: talking to republicans is oftentimes an effort of a dialogically serious mind (progressive) with a dissociative, inveterately monologuing conservative. I am not trying to mock the conservative, but only stating the reality: the social is a scaffolding upon the flow of energy within the individual, and so it is the social world the republican lives within that "nourishes" the feelings they feel and the narratives they tell one another. Indeed, it is quite ironic to see a white guy scream "white power!" with so much hatred in his voice, and then say "I love Trump". Awareness of love, and awareness of the necessity of it, is being acknowledged in "I love Trump", but disavowed in the anger and aggression. A complete lack of mental representation - of knowing and recognizing hypocrisy, and assuming responsibility for actions - is absent here. Sustaining a sane, rational, fair and happy society is fundamentally tenuous when too many people like this exist - not because they are intrinsically bad - but because there are dark and evil minds out there - machiavelli type creatures - who know just how to manipulate naive, poorly educated christian conservatives to respond and see the world in the way advantageous to the interests of the few. As a serious note: understand your enemy. The real bad guys are bohemiam grove type gnostic nihilists with a deep, deep hatred for progressives and liberals. It's very simple: they're sociopaths who have structurally dissociated themselves from the nature of their actions. Look at that clip of Ted Cruz saying "Donald Trump is a pathological liar. He does not know the difference between good and evil", and then in another clip, Teds on the phone trying to convince citizens to vote for Trump. This is very important - perhaps the most important thing: people who do this are not psychologically normal - yet all of Trumps high-level supporters are just like this. We see this most clearly in the consistent speech style of these Republicans: low reactive or hyper reactive. Now, of course, there are actually many good republicans who believe in real christian values - these are not the people I'm writing about. This is not about anyone but the aristocrats - those who think they are "the best", and are willing to put the world through hell because of their own existential issues which they resolve through "giving into the chaos". This, is not conspiracy - but a simple, well known fact that too many people under-emphasize; no, it was there from the beginning - motivating undemocratic policies and systematically constructing a system that benefited a small group of people at the expense of others. There is no truth or coherency to anything they believe - yet here they are, at the helm of the worlds largest economic and military power. So, in the future, my advice would be: we need to improve our educational system so that sociopathic nihilists do not manipulate one portion of the population against another group. Humans are vulnerable creatures: egotism is how we defend ourselves in competitive and aggressive contexts - the very contexts that BG (Bohemian grove) republicans seek to propagate in societies, that way the 'structure' and 'functionality' of the human is in their claws to control and manipulate. This must stop! This evil, cynical way of being towards other Humans needs to stop - and can only stop when political science is properly connected to ACTUAL science i.e. informed by contemporary fields like interpersonal neurobiology, so that the vulnerabilities i.e. interpretational proclivities of humans in terms of a developmental 'canalization' that biases the construction of needs and strengths, are acknowledged and factored in. Further, certain ideas are just plain wrong: claiming we "need to get tough", is WRONG. Developmental psychology, affective neuroscience and traumatology exposes how interpersonal experiences "scaffold" the construction of the nervous system: it is not random, but a "structural determinism", in Humberto Maturana's language. Political correctness, in theory, is fine: it just needs to be EXPLAINED why its important to speak in certain ways: language is NOT neutral - it creates effects, as every evil magician (on Trumps team) knows. Add to this climate change. I'm not sure what will happen over the next 4 years, but I am skeptical that the Republicans will blow a perfectly good opportunity to 're-create' the conditions within American society that make them such an unappealing group to sane and rational minds. I'm sure opposition will continue and will increase, as Trump is simply too opposed to reality, to goodness and rightness, not to create conflict domestically and globally. Just consider the global issues - all of which could lead to world war. Consider the non-neutral reality of Trumps election. Do you think Muslims will feel good or bad about it? What about Americas 5 million Muslims. Wont Trumps rhetoric generate fear? And doesn't fear induce a "coherency" process that lands somewhere - wherever the social world offers as a solution to the problem of fear? This also relates to the asinine republican conviction that you "need to name the enemy" to defeat it. In reality, there are subtleties: most people do not support extremism: they'd prefer to live than kill themselves or die before their time. However, if you begin speaking with accusatory and baleful rhetoric, you PROVOKE a self-organization, because your critical disapproval of them as a group triggers a SEARCH FOR A NEW IDENTITY: and they may find it, indeed - some may find it - in radical Islam. Our society has been made autistic: how else could such an obvious and intuitively true explanation - based in the realities of feedback processes - be so unknown? Our brains are changing - culture is growing ever more perverse, even as there exists a liberal and progressive interest in equal rights for woman in the work-place, in politics, government and business; early childhood education, support for disadvantaged groups, etc. Then, you have NATO. Only a gull would think that Trump is unaware of the condition he would be creating by this isolationist action: Russia invades Ukraine. Indeed, just today, Russia has left the international criminal court - they are officially no longer subscribing to an international global system of moral governance. And most pertinently: the south China sea. Duterte - the brazen new president of Philipines, couldn't get along with Obama - so its probable that he will hate Trump. So how is Trump going to deal with the Philippines decision to ally itself with China - thus depriving America of an important and critical relationship essential to their control of major shipping lanes. How is Trump going to deal with that?!
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