A bit of Science in Organizing

I've observed politics and the human condition since the age of five. I have a definite line of thought of how to beat Citizens United. It's not an easy path, but, I see no other way considering the current state of discourse.

I sincerely believe that life is an evolutionary process on the micro and macro levels at that same time. Despite our shortcomings as human beings - which are especially acute in such an economic environment as that which we now experience - I still find reason for hope.

In my studies of psychology and the workings of the human mind, I found a 2007 article that I'd like to share an excerpt from. In my own conceit, this article supports the organizing theories that I've been developing for many years now.

"People are wired for empathy, but corporations are wired to pursue interests"
By Gary Olson - July 1, 2007
<http://www.ufppc.org/book-notes-mainmenu-36/6390-background-people-are-wired-for-empathy-but-corporations-are-wired-to-pursue-interests.html>

EXCERPT:

If morality is rooted in biology, in the raw material or building blocks for the evolution of its expression, we now have a pending fortuitous marriage of hard science and secular morality in the most profound sense. The details of the social neuroscientific analysis supporting these assertions lie outside this paper but suffice it to note that it’s persuasive, proliferating, and exciting. (Jackson, 2004 and 2006; Lamm, 2007)

That said, one of the most vexing problems that remains to be explained is why so little progress has been made in extending this orientation to those outside certain in-group moral circles. That is, given a world rife with overt and structural violence, one is forced to explain why our moral intuition doesn’t produce a more ameliorating effect, a more peaceful world. Iacoboni suggests this disjuncture is explained by massive belief systems, including political and religious ones, operating on the reflective and deliberate level. These tend to override the automatic, pre-reflective, neurobiological traits that should bring people together.

Thus a few cautionary notes are warranted here. The first, then, is that social context and triggering conditions are everything because where there is conscious and massive elite manipulation, it becomes exceedingly difficult to get in touch with our moral faculties. As Albert cautions, circumstances may preclude and overwhelm our perceptions, rendering us incapable of recognizing and giving expression to moral sentiments (Albert, n.d.; and also, Pinker, 2002). For example, the fear-mongering of artificially created scarcity may attenuate the empathic response.

The second is Hauser’s (2006) observation that proximity was undoubtedly a factor in the expression of empathy. In our evolutionary past “there were no opportunities for altruism at a distance” and therefore the emotional intensity was/is lacking. This can’t be discounted but, given some of the positive dimensions of globalization, the potential for identifying with the “stranger” has never been more robust. For examples of help extended to strangers that wasn’t available in our evolutionary past, including blood donations, Holocaust rescuers, adoption, and filing honest tax returns, see Barber (2004).

Finally, as Preston (2006-2007; and also, in press) suggests, risk and stress tend to suppress empathy whereas familiarity and similarity encourage the experience of natural, reflexive empathy. This formidable but not insurmountable challenge warrants further research into how this “out-group” identity is created, reinforced, and its influence diluted.

END EXCERPT

In the end, it all comes down to how we think globally, yet act locally - in our neighborhoods and precincts. In the end, it all comes down to how we rebuild human relationships in this chaotic era. Emanuel Wallerstien (sp?) is correct - we're witnessing the end of an economic system. We are the ones who have to insure that the next economic system is equitable for ALL people.

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