psychology, public opinion

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Joined: 10-05-11
Dec 10 2011 13:11
psychology, public opinion

(i must be annoying with my inability to make myself clear in english but still typing long shit)

two points/questions

1) psychology - when it comes to organizing political actions, community organizing or even just when discussing with other people - is the basic psycology relevant in any way? such as, if things heat up in a round of discussion, does the point of the discussion itself goes missing in your opinion? while i agree that politics should not be done on emotional basis but is it possible and neccassary, to hold back your feelings and emotions in order to make your point more clear?

also "introverts" and "extroverts" - while some poeple are more moderate and others more temperament should those, who are more emotional and therefore have a tendancy to raise their voice, lower themselves to the moderates level, or the other way?

i feel that completly turning off your emotions for the "higher purpose" is impossible, un-neccassary and i'm not sure if i even would want it, if it was possible. at the same time, you may say that while for an example, raising your voice at a comrade at a discussion makes your point irrelevant and the focus goes on the yelling part.

lastly on psychology, i know there's anti-psychiatry texts around, but how about anti-psychology? i'd be interested in it as i really feel that generalizing people by basic psychological "theories" is generating what i'd call emotional discrimination.

2) public opinion - i've been told at (non-anarchist) demonstrations, that i shouldn't be shouting slogans, as it makes passerbys think of us as a random rowdy bunch of hooligans. there's also a need, even within the small anti-authoritarian left movement, to be as moderate as possible, in order to make us more "edible" for the public. but isn't anarchist and communist ideas anything but moderate (in the mainstream sense) anyway? shouldn't we be discussing how to make the ideas more popular without losing the revolutionary aspect of anarchism instead? i'm sure we should, but how to convince people within the movement, that don't realize that?

generally, public opinion? what do you think it is and does it actually exist or is it just a way for the the state generalize people (saying that the general public is the introvert at the meeting, coming back to my first question) trying to marginalize the "radical" left? anarchists joingin hands with a green-eco-group to clear trash next to highways = anarchists good! anarchists standing for wokring class rights at a demonstration = anarchist bad!

hope anyone actually bothers reading, answering. if you didn't get anything i said, ask and i'll try to clear myself.

Choccy's picture
Joined: 9-12-04
Dec 10 2011 14:00

While I'm critical of a lot of the uses of psychology, I do think it's incredibly important. You only have to look at the billions of pounds spent on advertising, marketing, propaganda etc in order to influence people.

I'm not sure how revolutionaries would use it and I haven't thought about it, but yeah in principle, it must be worth thinking about.

To be honest, without saying it, radical groups consider things like this all the time, from leaflet design, to organisational issues we consider how we'll appear to other workers, what prior beliefs people have, how we engage. To me they're all issues that can be informed by understanding a bit of psychology.

Whatever the ethical problems with the work of the likes of Milgram and Zimbardo, they highlight how even the most arbitrary of authoritarian structures can hijack our psychology when we act as individuals and make otherwise 'good' people do ghastly things. An anti-psychology or critical psychology (which does exist, particularly in social psychology) would be useful in informing the critique of authority, and moving us toward thinking collectively, as opposed to atomised individuals.

That said, I'd be wary of over-psychologising just about anything.

Joined: 8-07-11
Dec 10 2011 16:08

"psychology, public opinion

(i must be annoying with my inability to make myself clear in english but still typing long shit)"

I think your english is fine and understood your Qs.
My thoughts are that politics is subsumed by the collective psychology, hence as Chocky said,,,
",,, I'd be wary of over-psychologising just about anything."
,,,I assume is the same thing.
Any totalitarian state depends on the manufacturing of a popular collective angst, whether by blatant propaganda or insidious coersions, and these negative emotions are projected as legitimate desires.
A self-consciousness of ones relationship to society,i.e. self-analysis of the emotional dynamic within a community,i.e. intersubjectivity as a process of relating to the desires of ones equals as in a group discussion are ways of subverting these negativities and empowering a collective consciousness. Passion is essential, raising ones voice may be someones method if there is no microphone, or if spontaneity of expression resembles the song-like exuberance of delivering ones heart into the debate, as an indication of ones sincerity.
Public opinion is whatever has become the rhetoric of the popular moral and religious tendencies within that particular society, it is the politics of the social conditioning. I hope you can understand what I am describing.

Ambrose's picture
Joined: 21-10-11
Dec 12 2011 20:28

I don't understand what you mean by over-psychologizing.

It is my understanding that psychology is extremely important. To be successful politically it requires an ability to move people and be charismatic, read people, etc.

I try to keep it from being an argument, I try and find as much common ground as possible and build from that. Doesn't usually start out that way, old habits die hard as they say.

Joined: 10-05-11
Dec 14 2011 14:12

thanks for the replies

i admit i was generalizing and not specific enough myself in the first post.

trying to go a bit more specific now, a few examples:

anarchism needs a popular movement behind it to succeed - something i'd call stating the obvious, heh. sadly, in a lot of eastern-european countries, especially the baltics for an example, it's far from being popular - it's rather misunderstood, hated or marginalized.

because of this i've encountered a lot of absurdities from within the movement, such as ideas that would lower anarchism to some lighter form - basically, turning libertarian socialim into a more "radical" form of left-liberalism or social-demorcacy, in order to make anarchist ideas more "edible" for the public.

here it's not about looneys trying to blow up ceo's - even a demonstration causes condemnation from the "public". should anarchist movement, in a country like that, avoid demonstrations - for an example, people in ex-soviet countries, afraid of anything leftist thanks to the "communism" of ussr, are mostly pro-nato. should we not protest nato's plans for the area? where to draw the line between going vanguardist and sticking to anarchist politics? or if we bring another example outside anarchist movement - gay marches are often attacked by neo-fascists and silently condemned by the public, should the gays keep organizing marches or should they try to fight for their rights in a more passive way? should we always care about the public opinion? if we keep organizing despite the non-existant support or would that mean going too vanguard (e.g "we don't care, we fight for what we think is right")

to be clear, i'm not waiting concrete solutions to the problems, just trying to get to know what you think about stuff like that from an pcyhological viewpoint, keeping in mind the public opinion.

thanks again!