Monday, February 27, 2006

The Social Psychology of Politics

I thought again of the idea of a displacement issue in media and politics. The society can’t face the real political issues of the day, so they channel their energy and dissatisfaction into a side or displacement issue. The target of the criticism, in this case Bush, has to be in a weakened political position for the faux issue to gain traction. It’s a way for people to attack the person they have doubts about, without confronting the real issues or crimes committed by that person.

Currently, it is the dustup over Bush allowing the United Arab Emirates to manage several US ports. Even in the domain of US ports and national security that is not the real issue. The lack of examination of cargo containers is a bigger port issue. Kerry tried to raise it during the campaign but got no where with it. But on bigger issues such as the failure of the Iraq war and occupation, sanctioned torture and Bush’s admitting to breaking the law by wiretapping without a warrant, the opposition got no traction. The public and the media still need to cling to the myth that Bush is their protector and so they’ll allow any crime. But underneath, the public is wary enough of him that the press, the Democrats and even some Republicans who need to distance themselves from Bush before the 2006 elections, can jump on him for something relatively minor, as long as it can be couched as him not protecting us.

Moods and Worlds

“The idea is roughly that moods must be taken as having at least as sound a role in advising us of reality as sense experience has; that, for example, coloring the world, attributing to it the qualities ‘mean’ or ‘magnanimous,’ may be no less objective or subjective than coloring an apple, attributing to it the colors red or green. Or perhaps we should say: sense experience is to objects what moods are to the world.”

From Stanley Cavell's "Thinking of Emerson" in his Emerson's Transcendental Etudes, p. 11