Groupthink and the Malignant Normality of Violence and War
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.
Groupthink requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the “ingroup” produces an “illusion of invulnerability” (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the “ingroup” significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the “outgroup”). Furthermore, groupthink can produce dehumanizing actions against the “outgroup”. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink
Groupthink occurs when a group with a particular agenda makes irrational or problematic decisions because its members value harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation. Individual members of the group are strongly discouraged from any disagreement with the consensus and set aside their own thoughts and feelings to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader and other group members. In a groupthink situation, group members refrain from expressing doubts, judgments or disagreement with the consensus and ignore any ethical or moral consequences of any group decision that furthers their cause. Risk-taking is common, and the lack of creativity and independent thinking have negative personal and political implications for both group members and outsiders. Groupthink decisions rarely have successful outcomes. – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/groupthink
Yesterday morning was an interesting time for me in more than many ways. Three submissions crossed my path one after the other while browsing my social media feeds and in a very deep sense were connected to each other and the deeper life-ground of meaning and understanding that I was studying over the past two years. The syntropy, synchrony and syntony which was evidenced by the presentation of these articles brought to my mind’s eye the following quote:
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ― Nikola Tesla
In a real sense, I felt that the infinite within was trying to reveal some more secrets of the universe that I was seeking and was found by my thinking in terms of energy (syntropy), frequency (synchrony) and vibration (syntony). The whole that was revealed by the three articles was greater than the sum of the parts of the articles themselves, and this emergent “pattern that connects” moved me to share via social media a blog article I opined exactly one year ago that seemed very relevant to what had been unfolding that day.
I was dumbfounded by the responses I got as it was totally opposite to the response I had expected, and as is usual in similar cases like these, my search for answers and the lessons learnt revealed some deeper insights. This is the vexing psychological phenomenon of groupthink which opened this blog article. This appears to be the ultimate barrier to constructive co-creative human evolution in dealing individually and collectively with the life-challenges and the life-problems we face, and this has resulted in the persistence of the malignant normality of violence and war in our local, regional and international spheres of influence.
The first submission was a TedTalk entitled An economic case for protecting the planet by Naoko Ishii:
“We all share one planet — we breathe the same air, drink the same water and depend on the same oceans, forests and biodiversity. Economist Naoko Ishii is on a mission to protect these shared resources, known as the global commons, that are vital for our survival. In an eye-opening talk about the wellness of the planet, Ishii outlines four economic systems we need to change to safeguard the global commons, making the case for a new kind of social contract with the earth.”
The second submission was a review in Nature of a soon to be released book entitled The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy by Mariana Mazzucato Allen Lane (2018). It was entitled “How to retool our concept of value” in which “Robert Costanza applauds Mariana Mazzucato’s call for more-productive, equal and sustainable economies.”
As the book description reveals:
“Modern economies reward activities that extract value rather than create it. This must change to insure a capitalism that works for us all.
In this scathing indictment of our current global financial system, The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been determined and reveals how the difference between value creation and value extraction has become increasingly blurry. Mariana Mazzucato argues that this blurriness allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as value creators, while in reality they were just moving existing value around or, even worse, destroying it.
The book uses case studies–from Silicon Valley to the financial sector to big pharma–to show how the foggy notions of value create confusion between rents and profits, a difference that distorts the measurements of growth and GDP.
The lesson here is urgent and sobering: to rescue our economy from the next, inevitable crisis and to foster longterm economic growth, we will need to rethink capitalism, rethink the role of public policy and the importance of the public sector, and redefine how we measure value in our society.”
The third and pivotal submission was by a kindred like-minded spirit I discovered recently by the name of Caitlin Johnstone. Her article entitled Normalize Peace resonated with me and of which I shared with friends via social media and on which I was moved to comment:
“Thank you Caitlin for being a powerful voice for reason and a kindred spirit of love and enlightenment. I share the same sentiments.
I would like to share an article I posted exactly one year ago, which I hope would also be useful to you and your readers.
The link above referred to the article I wrote exactly a year ago entitled Reclaiming our for-ever-giving and forgiving human nature and bringing us back from the brink of the for-ever-taking and fortaking misgivings of war.
The response of the comment that followed mine read as follows:
“A study of anthropology and evolutionary biology will show you that violence and war are quite natural. I applaud your efforts as someone has to actual report rather than copy and paste approved stories, but I think here your political bias is showing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan and glad I found you, but in this field of study you are deficient. And I direct that at most of your ilk, so it is probably a group think thing.”
And then it became very clear what the universe was trying to teach me as the groupthink idea connected with the pivotal meme of my article one year ago and Johnstone’s meme in her article yesterday.
What dumbfounded me was that I replied to the comment twice but nothing was posted, but other comments were allowed through, thus suggestion that my follow-up comments were being censored by WordPress from my end or by the Administrator from her end.
Since it was not posted, and I feel my follow-up comments are of vital importance to the groupthink concept in us understanding it and our moving forward as a species, I will post them here with some expansion.
“The anthropologists and evolutionary biologists (mis)interpretation that “violence and war are quite natural” is not probably, but actually, a “group think thing.”
It is becoming more and more evident that we humans self-domesticated ourselves to become less violent and more pro-social and hence to reduce the anti-social emotions of fear and rage to foster more social trust and social cohesion.
It was only in the last 1% of the 100,000 year lifetime of our species, an anomaly of sorts reared its ugly head, that set in motion a systemic reversal of sorts from a cultural system of position, power and wealth based on pro-social partnerships and collaborations to that of anti-social domination and competition.
Narvaez, D. (2013). The 99%–Development and socialization within an evolutionary context: Growing up to become “A good and useful human being.” In D. Fry (Ed.), War, Peace and Human Nature: The convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views (pp. 643-672). New York: Oxford University Press.
As a result, direct, structural and cultural violence have become the malignant normality of our most recent time, starting in childhood and has formed the basis of the official narrative both in and out of academia.
What dumbfounded me even more, is a response I received later that day in an email referring to that exact same posting of Reclaiming our for-ever-giving and forgiving human nature and bringing us back from the brink of the for-ever-taking and fortaking misgivings of war:
“alas B this is factless, inflated rhetoric and a diversion from what was a rising impact of exposure of the long-suppressed homicidal and war crime organisation – – If I did not know better, I would think you were part of the diversionary apparatus – – – -“
And here is my response, which was the re-cognition and in-spiration of this blog article, and deserves to be shared as it would not have been embodied, become manifested, been relevant and would not have revealed the intrinsic meaningfulness of LIFE without the contributions of the life-minded kindred spirits mentioned above.
“Thanks XXXX again for your candid response. I see you interpreted my posting as potentially part of a diversionary apparatus that is “factless, inflated rhetoric” in nature. This missive was composed exactly one year ago (19th April, 2017) when I was moved by “the infinite within” which I thought you would have appreciated, but I guess I was wrong. Interestingly, I wonder how you would feel if any of your colleagues also construed the “infinite within” as “factless, inflated rhetoric”? If I did not know better, I would have thought likewise.
The “infinite within” is a human life capacity that is still unseen and forsaken, and provides a(n a)venue for us to rise above the internecine battles across domains and borders and within SfP and between us – our two complementary approaches of bringing your LVOA to a wider audience, you coming from a logical, precise and concise framework, and my coming from the rhetorical and mathematical framework, guided by your critical thinking logic.
How else can one explicate the “infinite within” in our space-time world other than with logic, rhetoric and mathematics? I am bringing life-valued rhetoric to the public sphere and I am working on a life-valued ontological mathematics to support your LVOA logic. We both have different human capacities and capabilities based on different experiences and insights, but we both are embodiments and manifestations of the same ultimate cosmic life-ground.
This may not be your forte, but I am trying to apply my expertise as best as I am moved to based on the synchronicities, syntropies and syntonies that flow my way. If you read my blog posts with a discerning ear, there are harmonics and resonances of a mathematical nature that guide my thoughts, felt side of being and actions to become more fully-coherently inclusive, from the cosmic life-ground of cyclical symbolic representations (ontological mathematics) to the social life-ground of LVOA.
How can you object to or be closed off to that?
Please, if and when you have time, revisit the missive to determine if it can be re-interpreted in a more fully life-coherent light, not one of diversion, but of rising above the divisions, and rebasing on the long forsaken common cosmic life-ground that surpasses all materialist understanding.
I now realize that the invisible prisons of the ruling group mind and groupthink may work together to prevent the sharing of ideas, and it is the malignant normality of these cultural violent mindsets that we must all work together, creatively and constructively, to breakout of during our breakdowns in the darkness as we breakthrough the laboring pains to the dawn of a new dispensation that grows less violent and more peaceful each day.