Posts Tagged: bigotry

Dec 18

Hate is Intoxicating

Hate is intoxicating. You may say, “no it’s just toxic”. But that isn’t all there is to hatred. People genuinely get a powerful tension release from outbursts of hatred. They ride a gush of hormones and other stimulating neurological chemicals, and they feel good for awhile. As with being very drunk or very stoned, the IQ drops for a time. Cognition becomes truncated, it becomes constricted by the tunnel vision of a desire to perpetuate the release, the excitement.

It’s a kind of structured rage; the structure requires fuel, which is provided by rhetoric, cherry-picked factoids, outright fabrications, a Rube Goldberg machine of rationales that requires the hater to narrow focus, to filter out what doesn’t feed the fire of bigotry and conspiracy-theory induced rage. That requirement includes not just the exclusion of facts, but also the exclusion of certain feelings. How else did people who, at home, actually like children feel empowered to say, over and over, “Those children were separated from their parents because their parents broke the law.” Within the framework of structured rage, they’re able to filter out empathy for those particular children; they can block away obvious realization that these children are being punished for a crime they themselves did not commit.

We’ve always known this, just not quite consciously. It’s the theme of endless movies and plays and tv episodes. “I was blinded by my feelings,” Roger says. …”You, Helen, can’t see what your anger has done to you–to you and to your family…”… “Jim, put down that rope, this town won’t be ruled by mob mentality…” The warnings are there, all through our culture. We do know, on some level. We need to see it on a more conscious level. If we could look at our basest feelings squarely we could get some kind of leverage to control them. We could push back against that inner sumo wrestler that keeps shoving us out of the ring. That pushback starts with philosophy’s most ancient maxim: Know thyself. And that requires a level of self honesty that has to be worked at.

It’s tough to see your own emotional intoxication, especially considering the feedback loop. If you’re seething inside and need a release, need a scapegoat to target–immigrants, for example, or just “liberals”–and you go to a rally, or simply talk to other people with the same addiction to this intoxication, perhaps in a bar or at a football game,  you and they will unconsciously conspire to sustain the flow of intoxication provided by structured rage. You bounce it off one another, faster and faster, more and more narrowly, each confirming the other, in an intoxicating feedback loop. The more people who surround you, repeating the same biases, the more firmly self-serving lies take root inside you.

Demagogues, like our current President, and the new, neo-fascist leader of Brazil, instinctively know how to foment this feedback loop of bias and rage. So do schoolyard bullies. They all know instinctively how to feed the fire. Why is that? Trump isn’t smart enough to have analyzed the process. It seems to be in his nature to know. The word instinct might be more than just an expression, when it comes back to stoking structured rage. Ancient proto-humans might have had to work up their own feedback loop of anger to survive predation from other tribes. Some obsolete primeval wiring could have gotten Trump elected president; it might be making Alex Jones and his ilk wealthy. Some of our ugliest impulses might well be instinctive.

The core meaning of civilization could the imperative to separate from “lizard-brain” guidance; to recenter ourselves in something higher: in  conscious wisdom, restraint, empathy, and a drive to real justice…

Feb 12

Study: “LOW IQ linked to Bigotry”

“The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood.” (Huffington Post, linked below.)

I’ve no doubt LOW IQ and racism, homophobia, etc, go together. But I am convinced that some people, simply SWITCH OFF part of their “IQ” for the sake of bigotry etc, because being a bigot has a kind of emotional steamvalve benefit for them, they actually “get off” a bit from hating, it’s cathartic. So in order to groove on the feeling they get from expressing bigotry, they suppress intelligence.

Other bigots however are just innately stupid. And of course all of them are wrong.

I actually suspect that neurologically, in some sense, bigotry may be literally physically addictive; that the brain releases chemicals that stimulate a person because of wired-in xenophobia, and that stimulation (purely physical–not mental!) is addictive, for some people.