Friday, October 31, 2008

Cult Of Personality

The last day or so I have been looking at the The Mass Psychology of Fascism and how to Escape from Freedom. Not the books. Stuff on the net. Let me start with Ali Sina's discussion of the cult of personality.

There are other disturbing similarities. Like Hitler and Khomeini, Obama also likes to create a cult of personality around himself. As stated above, when a large number of a population is discontent, a charismatic leader can seize the opportunity and present himself as the agent of change. He can create a cult of Personality by associating himself with the idea of change. He convinces everyone that things are terrible and a drastic change is needed. He then casts himself as the only person who can deliver this revolutionary transformation that everyone is waiting for. He portrays himself as a benevolent guide; the only one who cares about people and their needs and can pull them out of their alleged misery. In reality, they have no clue about how to address the problem - have no experience, no track record. But they are convincing because they are self assured.

These revolutionary leaders need foes. They exaggerate the problems. They make everything look gloomy. They lie, cheat and slander their opponents while casting themselves as the saviors of the nation. Hitler chose the Jews to blame for everything that was wrong in Germany. Khomeini made the Shah and his westernization plans his scapegoats. Obama has chosen President George W. Bush to smear. He can rally people around himself, as long as he can instill in them the dislike of Bush and equate his rival, McCain to him. Sigmund Freud wrote, "It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness" (Civilization and Its Discontents).

A cult of personality is excessive adulation, admiration and exaltation of a charismatic leader, often with unproven merits or achievements. It is similar to hero worship except that it is created specifically for political leaders.
Hmmm. Does that sound like something you have seen lately? There is way more and it is all good. So read it.

And then we have Fouad Ajami discussing Obama and the Politics of Crowds.
There is something odd -- and dare I say novel -- in American politics about the crowds that have been greeting Barack Obama on his campaign trail. Hitherto, crowds have not been a prominent feature of American politics. We associate them with the temper of Third World societies. We think of places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini. In these kinds of societies, the crowd comes forth to affirm its faith in a redeemer: a man who would set the world right.

As the late Nobel laureate Elias Canetti observes in his great book, "Crowds and Power" (first published in 1960), the crowd is based on an illusion of equality: Its quest is for that moment when "distinctions are thrown off and all become equal. It is for the sake of this blessed moment, when no one is greater or better than another, that people become a crowd." These crowds, in the tens of thousands, who have been turning out for the Democratic standard-bearer in St. Louis and Denver and Portland, are a measure of American distress.

On the face of it, there is nothing overwhelmingly stirring about Sen. Obama. There is a cerebral quality to him, and an air of detachment. He has eloquence, but within bounds. After nearly two years on the trail, the audience can pretty much anticipate and recite his lines. The political genius of the man is that he is a blank slate. The devotees can project onto him what they wish. The coalition that has propelled his quest -- African-Americans and affluent white liberals -- has no economic coherence. But for the moment, there is the illusion of a common undertaking -- Canetti's feeling of equality within the crowd. The day after, the crowd will of course discover its own fissures. The affluent will have to pay for the programs promised the poor. The redistribution agenda that runs through Mr. Obama's vision is anathema to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and the hedge-fund managers now smitten with him. Their ethos is one of competition and the justice of the rewards that come with risk and effort. All this is shelved, as the devotees sustain the candidacy of a man whose public career has been a steady advocacy of reining in the market and organizing those who believe in entitlement and redistribution.
Yep. It is a pretty good con. And he is very close to pulling it off. Very close.

One of the big clues for me that a lot of people see through him is that many people only half in jest call him "Dear Leader".

There is a bit I came across a while back claiming his success with at least part of the crowd is due to hypnotic techniques.
THE EVIDENCE IS HERE: This document contains over 60 pages of evidence and analysis proving Barack Obama’s use of a little-known and highly deceptive and manipulative form of “hack” hypnosis on millions of unaware Americans, and reveals what only a few psychologists and hypnosis/NLP experts know.

The entire paper is located here.

I found this on another forum, contributed by one of the more certified liberal loons. On first blush my sentiments were "yeah right." But because it was Sunday morning and a slow news day, I decided to indulge my curiosity and my funny bone and have a look see into this assertion of mass hypnosis by one Barack Obama.

Needless to say, what I found was not only intriguing, but captivating in both presentation and common sense reality. What this writer has to say and the way that he presents his argument, not only captivates the imagination? But also causes the reader to call forth the images of their own personal recollections, while the author utilizes his own observations and experience to make his points and his arguments for the assertions he is representing.
You know. That does indeed seem far fetched. But there is a method behind the madness. Deduction and reasoning.
And as I read th author's presentation the thought kept bouncing back at me that these are the very same techniques and principles (as being described) employed and deployed by all successful "preachers" and "charismatic speakers" historically. And that someone at some point had simply sat down and applied analytical thinking and deduction to the process of successfully leading people through manipulative speaking.

And where better to learn these techniques for a young Barack Obama, than at the feet of the professed and by observing and emulating the performances of charismatic preachers and others in his own life.

This is where Barack Obama had his "Eureka moment" in my estimation.
Now that does make sense. Preachers tend to come in styles. The styles tend to cluster. Obama's job is a tough one. He has to translate a preaching style that worked on the South Side Of Chicago into one that will work on all of America. That is a tough one.

I am in the process of reading the pdf and I would have to say that it is slow going at first. Here is an excerpt from the beginning that I think is key.
Dr. Erickson discovered while working as a therapist, that he could hide therapeutic hypnosis within the normal content of an inconspicuous conversation with the patient, and avoid much of the patient’s conscious resistance that normally accompanied hypnotherapy.18 Dr. Erickson realized the subconscious mind was always listening, and understood better than anyone before how to access it, and implant suggestions into it. What Dr. Erickson did was figure out how to put people into trance and hypnotize them and implant suggestions with seemingly normal conversation. He discovered that people could achieve this heightened state of hyper-suggestibility without the traditional difficultly-induced coma-like state traditionally associated with hypnosis. Though his pioneering understanding, he was able to do the same and much more often with simple plays on words and embedded meanings in a single sentence. The entire field of “covert hypnosis”, or “conversational hypnosis” is based on Dr. Erickson’s techniques, and is now primarily used by hypnotists and psychiatrists.19 Conversational hypnosis is often referred to as Ericksonian hypnosis. The word “hypnosis” is never mentioned and there is nothing overt to give away that hypnosis is being used. It is impossible to detect unless you know precisely what to look for. Hack versions of these techniques are unfortunately taught to be used as persuasion tools for salespersons, and even more unfortunately also for men looking to enhance their success picking up and seducing with women.
The story really doesn't get going until pdf page 15 where the description of how Obama uses the techniques. It discusses his Denver 2008 Convention speech. So if the beginning bores you jump to page 14 or 15 and dig in.

NLP was mentioned previously, so what is this NLP stuff? It is Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Let's look at what the wiki has to say.
NLP was co-created by Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder in the 1970s through observation and imitation of gestalt therapist Fritz Perls, family systems therapist Virginia Satir and psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson. The originators emphasized modeling of excellence as the core methodology, that is, the observational and information gathering methods they developed to define and produce the models of exceptional communicators. They also claimed that the basic assumptions of NLP draw from aspects of neurology ("neuro-"), transformational grammar ("linguistics") and cybernetics ("programming"). It has often been promoted as an art and science of effective communication and defined as 'the study of the structure of subjective experience'. Others put more emphasis on the tools, techniques and applications specific to contexts such as psychotherapy, business management and communications training, motivational seminars, personal development, and teaching.
Motivational seminars? That sounds a lot like a political rally. I'd be surprised if all candidates didn't use those techniques.

So can those techniques be taught? Neuro-Linguistic Programming for Dummies thinks so. I haven't read the book so I can't comment.

So what is the antidote to all this? Study the product before you buy. Be sure it is what you want and that the price is acceptable and know the techniques being used on you so you won't be bamboozled.

If you would like to listen to a perfect example of hypnotized Obama supporters just click on the link. Howard Stern does a fine job of ferreting out some people who do not know their product. At all.

Amazon has a set of videos explaining the techniques by Derren Brown. It looks interesting. Especially when he is seducing the girls. I'm sure such techniques could be used in the other direction by the ladies. If they knew how.

Here is a supposed example of street hypnosis by Derren Brown on YouTube. What do you think? I think that he does have some success but his failures are edited out. What makes me think that? I was never moved by Obama and now he grates on my nerves. If he grates on your nerves:

Don't give it to him. Make him steal it.


You know. It just came to me. It is all about Jeddi Mind Tricks. He is not the President we want. We can move along now and vote for McCain.

Watch Obama in action with appropriate music:





Update: 31 Oct 008 1357z

Commenter who, me? had this to say in the comments:
I was intensively trained in NLP in 1989, by some of the best and most ethical, with some overlap of Erickson methods. I've studied and used it professionally since then, in partnership with clients for the changes they explicitly want and need and agree to.

For the most part the article is accurate.

The difficulty with using it for argument is that NLP is derived from long-standing persuasive techniques, and thus BO can be regarded simply as good at giving pre-scripted persuasive speeches.

However, the elements are there as described. Notice particularly the Big Code Words -- nominalizations. The practitioner is taught to find the subject's favorite nominalizations, the ones resonant with life and promise for the listener --"criteria" words. The practitioner need have no hint of what the specifics are. Betsy Newmark refers to public education now operating on such "motivational" abstractions, thereby priming voters for this kind of packaged appeal.

I have avoided watching Obama's speeches. So I haven't directly calibrated his lulling pacing, tonal delivery, etc. But astonishing to me is, after 19 years of close attention to my own and others' thought patterns, I was finding a kind of "drag" toward Obama -- not the candidate but the voting target -- though I do not support him. As I anticipated going into the early-voting booth, I felt especially I needed to pay close attention, not to somehow go blank and vote for him. I've never ever felt that concern in any other election, as to any other candidate.

In short, both reading the article and noting with astonishment something in the air seemingly affecting me in spite of myself, there's a lot to this. But an a-logical demagogue-ready collective-mentality population really is key, otherwise the slick Package Nominalizations, gestures, and emotion-infused appeals to free-floating futile-program-based idealism wouldn't be so effective delivered wholesale.
That is VERY interesting.

Some MDs discussing the pdf paper. It is very interesting pro and con. Thanks to commenter Penny at Classical Values. Here is a very interesting comment from the "MDs discussing" link:
William D Horton, Psy. D. Says:
October 29th, 2008 at 5:52 pm

I am the co-author and technical advisor/expert for the article. My name is on it in several of the placements, but through an error, not all. I broke it down as a way to understand the Obama sudden rise to power. The co-author wants to remain behind the scene as he is fearful of negative feedback. I personally have respect for the skill Senator Obama uses these skills. I just wanted to point out the deep emotional response he elicits. I have talked about this on several radio shows and other outlets. If I had it to do over I would have removed partisan aspects, but I do stand by the techical aspects of the article.

William Horton Psy. D. CAC Master Hypnotist and NLP trainer
BTW the William Horton link goes to NFNLP - The National Federation of NLP.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

3 comments:

who, me? said...

I was intensively trained in NLP in 1989, by some of the best and most ethical, with some overlap of Erickson methods. I've studied and used it professionally since then, in partnership with clients for the changes they explicitly want and need and agree to.

For the most part the article is accurate.

The difficulty with using it for argument is that NLP is derived from long-standing persuasive techniques, and thus BO can be regarded simply as good at giving pre-scripted persuasive speeches.

However, the elements are there as described. Notice particularly the Big Code Words -- nominalizations. The practitioner is taught to find the subject's favorite nominalizations, the ones resonant with life and promise for the listener --"criteria" words. The practitioner need have no hint of what the specifics are. Betsy Newmark refers to public education now operating on such "motivational" abstractions, thereby priming voters for this kind of packaged appeal.

I have avoided watching Obama's speeches. So I haven't directly calibrated his lulling pacing, tonal delivery, etc. But astonishing to me is, after 19 years of close attention to my own and others' thought patterns, I was finding a kind of "drag" toward Obama -- not the candidate but the voting target -- though I do not support him. As I anticipated going into the early-voting booth, I felt especially I needed to pay close attention, not to somehow go blank and vote for him. I've never ever felt that concern in any other election, as to any other candidate.

In short, both reading the article and noting with astonishment something in the air seemingly affecting me in spite of myself, there's a lot to this. But an a-logical demagogue-ready collective-mentality population really is key, otherwise the slick Package Nominalizations, gestures, and emotion-infused appeals to free-floating futile-program-based idealism wouldn't be so effective delivered wholesale.

Yehudit said...

Obama creeped me out from day one. I am initially biased against charisma. Even if I appreciate positive qualities of the person or issues they espouse, I am always on guard against their charisma. It helps that my feeling function is subordinate to my thinking function. It would be interesting to find out if Obama supporters correlate to "feelers."

Labyrinthrine said...

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