Thursday, December 26, 2013

Iconoclastic Xmas

I despise Christmas with its stinky mixture of Patriarchal pseudo-religious word-idolatric ritualistic dogma and Capitalist commercial consumerist brainwashing in the prostituted name of peace, love and whatnot. 

Truly I feel much like this FEMEN activist who had the gills to interrupt the pitiful decadent Christian ritual with such an obvious Pantheistic slogan:

But what really motivated me to write this Xmas entry was this excellent postcard by graffiti artist Banksy, which says it all:

After all Palestinians are the real descendants of the protagonists of the Bible and their situation today is much worse than under Herod and Pilate. Possibly even worse than under the Roman genocide.

Somehow related in the Xmas knot is this other American Gestapo story which also illustrates how undercover fascist is the Imperial regime we live under. The FBI investigated the classical Christmas film "It's a Wonderful Life!", full of "honest capitalism" propaganda and religious magic because it depicts a powerful banker for what they are: greedy and evil. 

The screenwriters Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett were accused in the report of being crypto-Communists. As evidence of such tendency, having lunch with other screenwriters claimed to be Communists was apparently enough. Also some details of the plot (the suicide attempt scene) have vague parallels in a Soviet movie.

So that's what your taxes and tributes to the Empire are wasted in: protecting Scrooge from being shown as he really is.

Sources: Webguerrillero[es] (link 1, link 2) and The Daily Mail for the American Gestapo story.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Machiavellism, social dominance orientation and authoritarianism are tightly related (and subclinically psycopathic)

Depending on one's ideology this may seem either obvious or counterintuitive but that is what a powerful set of five successive studies has found.
Laura Niemi & Liane Young, Caring across Boundaries versus Keeping Boundaries Intact: Links between Moral Values and Interpersonal Orientations. PLoS ONE 2013. Open accessLINK [doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081605]

Prior work has established robust diversity in the extent to which different moral values are endorsed. Some people focus on values related to caring and fairness, whereas others assign additional moral weight to ingroup loyalty, respect for authority and established hierarchies, and purity concerns. Five studies explore associations between endorsement of distinct moral values and a suite of interpersonal orientations: Machiavellianism, prosocial resource distribution, Social Dominance Orientation, and reported likelihood of helping and not helping kin and close friends versus acquaintances and neighbors. We found that Machiavellianism (Studies 1, 3, 4, 5) (e.g., amorality, controlling and status-seeking behaviors) and Social Dominance Orientation (Study 4) were negatively associated with caring values, and positively associated with valuation of authority. Those higher in caring values were more likely to choose prosocial resource distributions (Studies 2, 3, 4) and to report reduced likelihood of failing to help kin/close friends or acquaintances (Study 4). Finally, greater likelihood of helping acquaintances was positively associated with all moral values tested except authority values (Study 4). The current work offers a novel approach to characterizing moral values and reveals a striking divergence between two kinds of moral values in particular: caring values and authority values. Caring values were positively linked with prosociality and negatively associated with Machiavellianism, whereas authority values were positively associated with Machiavellianism and Social Dominance Orientation.
A synthesis of the results of the five studies is presented in figure 2:
Figure 2. Summary of correlations observed across all studies.
Each square represents an observation of a significant partial correlation (politics, religion, and gender controlled). Each circle represents an observation of a significant zero-order correlation. Study (#) indicated on each circle/square. Moral values are color-coded.
"Mach" means Machiavellianism and "SDO" means social dominance orientation, which are clearly and positively correlated among them, via the same set of "group values" (ingroup loyalty, authority and purity). Instead helping those close to oneself and prosocial distribution are very positively correlated among them and associated with the "humanist values" or caring and fairness.
This is very much counterintuitive, especially as the authors use the term "individualizing" for the caring and fairness values, which makes absolutely no sense to me, as individualism means selfishness and aloofness, even misanthropy. Hence I replaced that term for "humanist" although I also pondered "personalist" (as the person can be something more whole and socially connected than the individual).
The produce of the two sets of values is even more at odds with the concept individualism. In fact it is the group (or "binding and dividing") value people who actually strive for social dominance and favor Machiavellianism. This is because they do not think in the group as extensive but as intensive and almost certainly as tool for their own individualist selfish goals. 
Most interpersonal behavior requires individuals to balance selfish motivation with prosocial motivation – to be a positive social partner who helps other people. These orientations are not mutually exclusive – care for the self is at times necessary to enable care for others. However, for some individuals, a motivation to dominate or exploit the group for selfish aims, measureable as Machiavellianism [20] or Social Dominance Orientation [21], may take precedence. Individuals high in Machiavellianism (“Machs”) admit to employing manipulation and deception to achieve power, status, control, and financial success [20]. These goals require successful management of group relations, which may in turn shed light on the paradoxical nature of Machiavellianism. Machs are often described as socially skilled, well-liked, popular, and excellent at building alliances [22], but they are also subclinically psychopathic [23] and exploitative of others' trust [24], [25]. Machiavellian negotiation of relationships and social structures for personal gain may benefit from a moral stance that elevates values like loyalty and deference to authority. More specifically, these values are critical for the preservation of existing social order but largely insensitive to concerns about caring and fairness. Moralization of these values – alongside relative indifference to caring and fairness values – could facilitate strategic hierarchy management while freeing the individual to feel morally justified in engaging in manipulative or exploitative behavior.
Subclinically psychopathic is a most revealing concept. I have often though of this as a real social problem of first order. The subclinicality may only be because psychiatry has established a boundary not to touch the powerful, what would be playing with fire. But, as we will see below, there is more to it.
What happens with social dominance orientation?
Relatedly, Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is characterized by a desire for inequality and a tendency to categorize people along a hierarchical “superior-inferior dimension” [21]. SDO, like Machiavellianism, has been found to predict various antisocial outcomes, including explicit racism and sexism as well as reduced empathy and concern for others [21], [26], [27]. While SDO has previously been identified as negatively correlated with individualizing values and positively correlated with binding values [2], SDO has not yet received attention for its potential positive connection with binding values when political orientation is controlled. Since an orientation towards social dominance requires a strict hierarchical worldview, a positive correlation between SDO and authority values, regardless of political orientation, would be predicted [2].
Later in the discussion they turn back to "Machs":
What could account for the positive relationship between respect for authority and Machiavellianism, an antisocial interpersonal style associated with strategic manipulation? Indeed, Machs have been shown to lie more convincingly [35], steal more readily [36], and rationalize deeds with callous unemotionality [37]. To provide the foundation for two potential explanations for this surprising relationship, we first describe two relevant aspects of Machiavellianism: (1) Machiavellianism and psychopathy are distinct in relation to social norm processing, and (2) Machs are likely to be dominant individuals in positions of authority. Next, we propose two potential explanations for the positive relationships between moral valuation of respect for authority and Machiavellianism: (1) Machiavellianism may entail moralization of respect for authority for a variety of strategic reasons, and (2) authority values may license Machiavellian behavior.
Discussing the subtle differences between Machiavellianism and outright psychopathy:
Although Machiavellianism is characterized by selfishness and shares some overlap with psychopathy [23], Machs are not necessarily aloof and unconcerned with social norms. Instead, the ability to manipulate others may actually benefit from a keen sensitivity to norms that govern social structure.
Instead most clinical psychopaths tend to be aloof. 
Another key difference is that Machs are highly sensitive to punishment, while again true psychopaths may be somewhat indifferent to this social corrector, so Machs retreat and even give away profusely in order to avoid this outcome.
Machiavellianism is also clearly related to dominance and control and, therefore to respect for authority:
In addition to being hyper-attuned to social structure, Machs are also likely to reside at the top of those structures in positions of authority. Machiavellian-style social climbing tactics (e.g., manipulation and deception) are more likely to be used by individuals high in dominance and well-equipped to assume authority over others [38]. Likewise, Machiavellian supervisors in a range of business sectors have been described by subordinates as employing authoritarian work habits involving strict control over a hierarchical workplace structure [46]. As individuals who recognize they can personally benefit from “working the system” from a position of authority – rather than attempting to make the system work for all – Machs may be more likely to identify respect for authority as relevant or even central to their concepts of “right and wrong”.
Ironically Machiavellianism finds in authoritarianism a self-serving morality. Being able to play the game and climb to the top, Machs clearly benefit from such respect to authority themselves and will spread the word among their subordinates. It also helps themselves to self-regulate their behavior in ways that are within the boundaries of the game, yet still selfish. Accepting others' authority acts as self-protection and gives them a moral varnish, internalizing these values allows them more easily to perform their flattery and igratiation climbing tactics (otherwise probably perceived as humiliation).
The authoritarian ethics seem also useful in order to condone otherwise anti-social behaviors such as cheating, graft or torture. Other recent studies have shown that individuals primed to feel high in power – that is, closer to “authority figure” status – were more likely to endorse unethical and antisocial behavior [55], [56].
Something I really miss in this study is the proportion of tendencies among the studied group, which could reflect general distribution in society. While the statistical correlations are systematically produced the proportion and intensity of the values of the actual human sample is not shown.
The authors assume that the prosocial values are generally desirable but in reality what I have found way too often is that many people, especially those in intermediate command positions or with a career to develop, experience serious contradictions between the "official" prosocial or humanist ethics and the "unofficial" but very real Machiavellian one. I would even say that they often feel emotionally broken by this contradiction. And this "they" at least sometimes becomes "we" and "I", so painfully.
It would certainly be interesting to study this contradictory social and psychological reality, even cross-culturally. 
In any case this study does produce some very interesting data that should be most valuable for future and more comprehensive research. It also produces very important information for our meditations on our social and personal reality, and certainly it also applies to past realities, at least since society became complex and hierarchical.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

TEPCO finally admits that they failed to cool molten nuclear fuel at Fukushima

Remember that in March 2012 the Japanese Government lied to the whole World claiming that the cold shutdown had been achieved in Fukushima Daiichi? I do, because I was utterly scandalized knowing what I knew, knowing that it was the most criminal lie since the denial of the Holocaust... or maybe even worse. Millions of people, children included, in Japan and elsewhere are being exposed to the radioactive harm of the worst nuclear accident ever and all they cared about was to save face with a lie so big and so murderous.

Yesterday finally TEPCO admitted publicly (→ Asahi Shimbun) that they completely failed to even achieve a half-decent cool down of the three nuclear meltdowns and that they knew that since late March 2011:

... water failed to cool it and the other reactors efficiently, and could not stop the core meltdowns in the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

I knew too. Not in such detail but it was quite obvious for anyone with a critical mind and some independent information.

“We should have shared the finding with the public in the belief it would help promote universal safety, but failed to do so,” said [a] TEPCO Managing Executive Officer... 

Yes you should indeed.

EneNews (which is the means by which I found those news) also reports in the same entry of a 2011 study on the consequences of Fukushima catastrophe:

Jiřina Vitázková & Errico Cazzoli, Estimate of Consequences from the Fukushima Disaster. NPSAG Research Reports 2011 → LINK

This study estimates that, at the time of its publication, more than two years ago, Fukushima was already almost four times as bad as Chernobyl. It's difficult to estimate how it is as of today but I would not be surprised if it is 10x as bad as Chernobyl already (or even worse). 

But, unlike Chernobyl, which is semi-contained, Fukushima is impossible to contain because of its proximity to the sea, and therefore to the underground water table as well, there are no human means to contain it at all. The catastrophic site will keep polluting forever in human terms, what means several Chernobyls every year. 

Nobody wants their children to have to put up with that, right?

I actually have serious doubts about the planet and human life being able to withstand such a nightmare in the long run but, assuming we can survive this mega-catastrophe, it is absolutely clear that nuclear energy must be eradicated immediately, before another even worse catastrophe happens. 

Also Japan should be completely evacuated, at the very least the Northern half of Honsu, including Tokyo Metropolis.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interview with Andalusian Workers Union leader Diego Cañamero (video in Spanish)

The repressed and censored Basque counter-information site Ateak Ireki (Open the Doors) is still available for those connecting from outside the Spanish legal prison of peoples and therefore I still get uncensored feeds even if I can't directly contact with the site. I can also reach to their YouTube account without problems.

Today they publish an interview with Diego Cañamero, leader of the combative Andalusian Workers Union (SAT), which has promoted supermarket and land expropriations in order to highlight the extreme social injustice that the Capitalist system provokes in Andalusia. Therefore he has dozens of legal cases open against him, as happens with many other activists of this union and sympathizers, but has declared himself total resister against trials, ignoring citations. He explains that he has been repressed with every single government, so let them do whatever they will.

Partly in an attempt to overcome neo-fascist censorship, I am translating below the text surrounding the video but I cannot translate the video-interview itself, which is in Spanish language.

From Ateak Ireki (censored in Spain):

[Video] Diego Cañamero (SAT): "We are legitimate to throw down governments who do not fulfill their word".

The speaker of the Andalusian Workers Union announces that they are preparing a great march to Madrid, to be participated by unions and social movements from all the state, including its nationalities.

Ateak Ireki has used the visit of Diego Cañamero to Iruñea [Pamplona] to speak in length with him on the economic, political and social situation in the State of Spain.

Cañamero assures that the land is "not any merchandise" but a good that must be "at the service of all human beings".

After recalling that he has been arrested in the dictatorship and under all and each governments of "democracy", he states that "the repression against the people who struggles has not changed" but that, nevertheless, this repression "never could defeat the justice of the peoples".

In this sense, the speaker of the Andalusian Workers Union underlines that "a society which does not rebel against injustice is accomplice" of it and that, right now, "unity is the great challenge of the transformer left". 

He reminds also that "people have not authorized with their vote the delay of retirement age, that [public] money is given to banks, that the baby check is removed, nor that public workers lose their extra pay nor that pensions get reduced", reason why he considers that "the people is legitimate to depose governments" who do not fulfill their word. 

In this line, he announces that they are preparing with unions and social movements "large marching columns to collapse Madrid".

Sunday, December 8, 2013

We shall not live under fear

I will have some news soonTM on what will happen with my political blogging activity, although I admit I have not cut all corners yet. But meanwhile...

Someone sent me this news link on the absolutely megalomaniac and scaringly Orwellian logos of the actually megalomaniac and scaringly Orwellian US program Total Information Awareness (TIA).

The truth behind the threat:
"Whoever grabs too much, squeezes too little"
(Castilian saying)

In my infancy universe, the TIA was actually a Spanish mockery of the CIA in which two rather dumb and useless secret agents always ended up doing it wrong. While this may not be the case anymore at all, I can't but find ridiculously pretentious the propaganda distilled by those logos and the equally propagandistic TV series The Last Enemy, which aims to justify such totalitarian control.

In fact, the striking issue with all US civilian surveillance programs is that their real aim seems to be to instill fear, because they cannot obviously process such a huge amount of data, even with the help of the most powerful computers. Absolute control is absolutely impossible, science and reality demonstrate once and again.

While the White House and the Pentagon may be doing their best to look as scary as Hitler, or even worse, the reality is much more like Chaplin narrated it in his awesome movie The Great Dictator. They are just apes like us and they bleed exactly like us and that means that they also slack exactly like us and commit brutal errors exactly like us. "They" are not perfect at all. In fact the system tends to select rather imperfect but obedient minions, what makes them extremely vulnerable to degeneration.

That's probably why they attempt to project a very scary shadow. Of course their megalomania and totalitarianism is very scary but, as Orwell correctly said, fascism cannot succeed where people can still laugh at the goose step.

And all those scary icons are nothing but their pathetic form of goose step and their goal is clearly to instill fear. 

But we shall not live under fear, rather we live with much higher emotions: LOVE and RAGE! 

And a good laugh, of course.