Leftist Group-Think, And The Dangers Thereof

group think

Most of us perceive Evil as an entity, a quality that is inherent in some people and not in others. Bad seeds ultimately produce bad fruits as their destinies unfold. . . Upholding a Good-Evil dichotomy also takes ‘good people’ off the responsibility hook. They are freed from even considering their possible role in creating, sustaining, perpetuating, or conceding to the conditions that contribute to delinquency, crime, vandalism, teasing, bullying, rape, torture, terror, and violence.”—Dr. Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect

Leftism Is Group-Think

The permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; Usually they find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement“—Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

If conservatism is the fundamental ideological belief in the power, liberty, and self-determination of the free individual, than its ideological polar opposite is leftism and its fundamental belief in the power of the centralized state over the liberty of the individual. Leftism is also, by its very nature, a totalitarian ideology of dogmatic and collectivist group-think and coerced conformity. By it’s own principles and goals it has to be.

Leftism Is A Movement

Those who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom. If they clamor for freedom, it is but freedom to establish equality and uniformity. The passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity: to be one thread of the many which make up a tunic; one thread not distinguishable from the others. No one can then point us out, measure us against others and expose our inferiority. They who clamor loudest for freedom are often the ones least likely to be happy in a free society. The frustrated, oppressed by their shortcomings, blame their failure on existing restraints. Actually, their innermost desire is for an end to the “free for all.” They want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected in a free society“—Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

Yet leftism is far more than just a collectivist political ideology or philosophy. It is actually an entire totalitarian system. As such, leftism is really the social, cultural, and political progress and movement towards a final totalitarian leftist system. Essentially, some form or interpretation of fully implemented Marxist socialism. Progressivism, or cultural-Marxism, is simply the cultural, social, and populist apparatus of the overall leftist movement and agenda. It is a cultural mass movement of liberalism, social justice, politically correct censorship, group-think, and cultural subversion, intent on destroying and transforming a once traditional culture into one more conducive towards socialism.

In the West this leftist movement has largely taken the form of, and been successful by, adopting these progressive and cultural-Marxist “reform” tactics, as opposed to the more radical and violent tactics of the revolutionary leftists and Marxists. The establishment and continuation of Western social democracies, nothing more than liberal socialist nanny states, is a testament to this success. These reformists march incrementally and steadily, but become emboldened and more militant with each new taste of success.

The goals of this movement are no different than their revolutionary brothers, they merely cloak their true intentions under the pretense of “reform”. They seek the furtherance of socialist political and economic principles and policies within society as a means of “righting” and “reforming” the perceived social “wrongs” and injustices created by the “evils” of liberty, individualism, merit, and the free-market. Some of their economic policy goals may include things such as wealth redistribution, a progressive income tax, entitlement programs, and finally the seizure and nationalization of all private property, industry, and agriculture. The ultimate leftist political and systemic goal is the total destruction of all enemies who oppose them and the establishment of a one-party, totalitarian, centralized, socialist state.

Group Think

The vigor of a mass movement stems from the propensity of its followers for united action and self-sacrifice. When we ascribe the success of a movement to its faith, doctrine, propaganda, leadership, ruthlessness and so on, we are but referring to instruments of unification and to means used to inculcate a readiness for self-sacrifice”—Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

Although not all progressives and liberals may share quite the same end goals or motivations—many are simply useful idiots swept up in the fervor a popular mass movement—they do all share remarkably similar ideologies, philosophies, opinions, and mindless brainwashed platitudes. The reason behind this is logically quite simple. Since leftism is in fact both a political and cultural movement, it requires numbers. These numbers are then derived from a sense of collectivism and shared purpose, which creates unity, conformity, structure, and organization. And, much like a cult, there becomes a strict and rigid adherence and uniformity to the rules, dogma, doctrine, tactics, activism, mass message and propaganda, as well as the total obedience and submission to the cause.

The leftist movement draws its strength from this unity, and from its ability to spread a unified mass message. This unified message often allows leftists to exert more cultural influence than they actually have. They may not be the largest voice in the room, but they will ensure that they are the loudest and most unified. And with every cultural or political victory, the vocal minority grows more emboldened and confident. And as they continue to shift the Overton Window leftward, and alter the culture accordingly, it only furthers their influence, their message, and their ability to indoctrinate new pawns.

The left then uses this perception of strength and inevitability, created by cultural influence and the Overton Window, to indoctrinate more recruits, activists, and emissaries. As such, there is simply no room for independent thought or dissent in leftism because it weakens the overall collectivist movement, doctrine, and message. This is the simple yet fundamental reason why leftists tend to think alike, and why the leftist movement is far more analogous to a cult as opposed to just simply a political philosophy or ideology. Leftism also exploits and abuses the fundamental human truth that it is psychologically and emotionally easier to conform than it is to dissent. Especially when the conformists are seen as the winners.

The Dangers Of Group-Think

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both“—Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

Since the leftist movement produces hordes of conformist drones, many of whom are fully indoctrinated with a fanatical and religious like zeal, these masses can easily be manipulated into advancing various political and cultural goals. In a progressive, reformist sense, these methods usually involve relatively non-violent protests, boycotts, activism, and political support, but that does not mean that hordes of indoctrinated drones ready for “self-sacrifice”, as Eric Hoffer would say, cant become extremely dangerous in an instant. “Protests” can become riots quite rapidly.

It is no secret then that group-think can be extremely dangerous, especially when wielded for nefarious or evil purposes. Due to the nature of conformity on human psychology, fanaticism, systemic, situational, and group-think factors can lead people to act in ways they otherwise never dreamed of, and those factors are multiplied when surrounded by like-minded individuals. It is the mob mentality in action.

This process of group-think or conformity based behavioral change is called situated character transformations. These transformations can range from harmless juvenile peer pressure, to the most heinous atrocities committed in human history. The leading scholar on this research is Dr. Philip Zimbardo, and it is from his work “The Lucifer Effect” , as well as Eric Hoffer’s classic work about the nature of mass movements “The True Believer“, that I will be drawing my conclusions. Dr. Zimbardo identifies 4 critical factors in systemic and situational group-think, which can cause an average person to become a monster, and all of these factors can be applied to the points of leftist group-think and group-identity that I discussed above.

These factors include: dehumanization, de-individuation (anonymity and conformity), moral disengagement, and ideology. All of these factors, when combined with the self-ascribed moral imperative and self-righteousness of the leftist movement and doctrine, can—and have—led to atrocities. Millions of innocent people—in peacetime and war—have been slaughtered in the name of leftist utopia.

Dehumanization: 

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil“—Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

Dehumanization is the age old tactic of labeling your enemies or scapegoats as less than human, in order to make committing atrocities against them more tolerable by your own side. It is nullifying the humanity and human rights of your enemies, in order to make committing harm and violence against them easier, and with less moral conscience and guilt on your own side. Through the use of propaganda, name calling, de-valuing, and separation, it becomes much easier to see an enemy in an “us versus them” dynamic, and therefore the will to destroy them becomes easier with less moral objection.

These tactics can be clearly seen in the ways that leftists constantly slander and label their enemies, calling them racist, ignorant, intolerant, close-minded, xenophobic, barbarians, misogynistic, etc, in order to foster the “us versus them” mentality needed for the leftist group-think movement to thrive, and to cement in the minds of their followers that anyone opposed to the leftist agenda is the “enemy”. By dehumanizing and slandering anyone opposed to the leftist movement, leftists are able to morally justify any atrocities—from minor to heinous—committed against them. The ends justifies the means.

De-individuation: 

People whose lives are barren and insecure seem to show a greater willingness to obey than people who are self-sufficient and self-confident. To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief of the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility“—Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

Deindividuation is the process of a person losing their individuality, identity, and sense of personal responsibility when absorbed into the larger group dynamic. Leftism exploits this psychological desire to conform and draws individual people into the group and movement and then deindividuates them from an individual into a group or collective identity. And as one’s sense of individuality dissipates, a growing sense of anonymity and a loss of personal responsibility increases.

Once securely within a group identity, a person begins to feel the sense of security that comes with conformity and being a part of something larger than themselves. Conformity and the desire to belong, please others, and obey orders, especially when combined with a sense of anonymity within a group, can be a major factor in committing atrocities that a person otherwise never would. They no longer feel personally responsible or accountable, because it was the group which carried out such actions not the individual. And this is especially true if such actions are seen as a furtherance of the group agenda, or are rewarded with praise and status within the group.

Moral Disengagement:

Our ability to selectively engage and disengage our moral standards helps explain how people can be barbarically cruel in one moment and compassionate the next“—Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect 

Moral disengagement is perhaps the most critical element in group-think atrocity. Simply put, moral disengagement is the neutralizing and ignoring of ones’ own personal morality and ethics when placed in a situation in which they are encouraged to act against them. Moral disengagement occurs when the other situational factors listed above weaken an otherwise normal person’s reluctance to commit such atrocities, and they then give in and ignore their own conscience. Moral disengagement can also occur when the priority, self-righteousness, or moral imperative of a cause outweighs a person’s own moral objections to certain deeds. To put it another way, moral disengagement occurs when “the ends justify the means”, which is a classic leftist principle.

Ideology:

Their words force us to confront the unthinkable again and again:  that human beings are capable of totally abandoning their humanity for a mindless ideology, to follow and then exceed the orders of charismatic authorities to destroy everyone they label as “The Enemy”—Dr. Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect

Ideology is the final factor in the leftist movement and group-think, and it is what ties everything else together. As I stated above, leftism is far more than just a dangerous ideology, yet it still requires the underlying Marxist ideology as its unifying element. As I also stated above, the strength and cohesion of the ideological message is critical to the success of the leftist movement as a whole. This is why there is no room for critical thinking, free thought or speech, or dissent within the leftist movement; because it weakens the overall ideological purity which allows for the exploitation of other factors.

Marxist and leftist ideology is the umbrella which unites various factions, demographics, blocs, and often disparate groups commonly found under the “identity politics” of the leftist movement. Ideology then allows for the other situational factors listed above to take hold. Anyone opposed or dissenting to the ideology is slandered, dehumanized, and labeled as an “enemy”, so as to justify any marginalization or atrocity committed against them. Ideology is what unifies and deindividuates its members into conformity and group-think.

The self-righteousness of the ideology is also responsible for the moral-disengagement and the justification of atrocities against those who stand in its way. Ideology is used as the justification for “the ends justify the means”. As Dr. Zimbardo states, “[ideology] legitimizes whatever means are necessary to attain an ultimate goal“. Ideology is what creates, fuels, and justifies toxic movements and systems, leftism included.

In Conclusion    

This is not a history paper, and I do not intend to lecture on the countless instances of human atrocity and genocide that has occurred as a result of dangerous group-think, regardless of the ideology. The point I am making is that leftism, by its nature, is a movement which requires dangerous group-think. It draws its power from its supporters marching in lock-step and promoting the cause. This inability to think critically or to dissent, is—and always has been—a powder keg for atrocity.

Revised: 2-3-2016

© 2014 by AB Frank, All Rights Reserved

Read More: The Virtue And Weakness Of Conservatism

 

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