Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation




НазваниеWhy we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation
страница1/18
Дата03.11.2012
Размер0.56 Mb.
ТипДокументы
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   18
International Politics


A Look Inside


By Thomas J. Byrnes


Table of Contents


Perceptions and International Politics 1-10


Nationalism 11-15


Bias and the Media 16-22


The United Nations 23-28


Politics and Poverty 28-40


The International Monetary Fund 41-45


The World Bank 46-51


The World Trade Organization 52-56


The European Union 56-59


Free Trade Blocs 60-65


Russia 66-81


India 82-90


Japan 91-99


Nigeria 100-106


Brazil 107-115


Perceptions and International Politics


Studying International Politics means, amongst other things, attempting to understand the political behavior of human beings in vastly different cultures. To do this we will start inside the human mind--improving our understanding of the hows and whys humans see things so differently. The writing below borrows from philosophy, psychology, sociology and other disciplines. It might seem somewhat esoteric when you read it, but be assured that the intent is eminently practical-- understanding why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others.

One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation of it. What we see of the outside world is essentially a movie that is partially directed and created by ourselves and partially by others. A common mistake we make in our everyday lives is to assume that what we see or perceive is the outside reality itself, without changes. We are not aware that the picture or movie that we perceive is, in many ways, very different from the outside reality. In international politics this practice prevents true understanding, leads to confusion and lack of communication, and very often, to violence.

There is a complex conversion process that occurs before the noumenon (that which is) becomes a phenomenon (that which we perceive). Part of that process is physical, another part psychological. The physical senses bring outside reality to the brain, then the brain or mind interprets what has been presented to it. In the initial process there is no reflection or thinking, as most of us use that term. Perceptions of outside events are instantaneous. They occur at the speed of light, or in real time.


Take the name Barak Obama as an example. When you saw the name you had a perception; you did not perceive the name itself, you saw a representation. The noumenon is simply ink on paper (if you are reading this in printed form). The ink has a chemical composition, it occupies some space, and it has other physical properties. What you and I see is something much different. First, our eyes have converted different light waves into colors, in this case black and white. The ink itself does not possess color; its chemical composition takes light energy and converts it to different light waves. Ink, which we see as black, absorbs most light energy and what we see is an absence of color, or black. The ink isn’t black; our perception of it is. Our other senses work much the same way. Our ears take vibrations that move through space and convert them into sound. Our taste buds take simple chemicals and change them into taste. Minute particles floating through the air are converted into a scent or smell; molecules that are excited and moving rapidly are experienced as hot by our sense of touch, and so on. What we experience is not the ink or vibrations or the other above-mentioned noumena in and of themselves; rather we experience representations of them that our senses have altered. This is key concept to remember. What we experience or perceive we have helped create. We are not passive recorders of reality. We transform reality constantly and instantaneously.


Although this is not the place for a discussion of time, it, also, is a perception. Time is essentially the relationship between objects that are moving to each other. Confusing? Let’s leave time to philosophers and students of physics. Back to Barak Obama. Since humans have very similar senses, it is probable that we have very similar physical perceptions of the name. The same is true of the physical part of most other perceptions. They are probably much the same for the majority of humans. The shape of a rifle or the face of Barak Obama appears pretty much the same to most of us. The psychological component of the perception, however, is likely to be very different indeed.


There are several factors that affect the non-physical or psychological part of perception. Some of the most important of these are experiences, beliefs or values, and wishes or desires. In these factors we humans are very different, and, therefore, so are the perceptions that we have of the same realties.


Let’s take the name Barak Obama again. Our experiences relating to Obama are different. Some of us have followed his political career closely for some time; others have not. Some of the people we know have largely positive views of him and have shared these viewpoints with us. Other friends and loved ones have expressed negative opinions. Each of us has had different experiences relating to Barak Obama and to that extent our perception of the name, and the man the name represents, will be different.


Secondly, we all have somewhat divergent beliefs or values. Although we like to think that all of these values have been freely chosen by us individually, it is probable that most of them have been given to us by our culture, the people who raised us and others whom we have met. Since these values are so different, so also are the perceptions we have. If we are fundamentalist Christians who believe that abortion is immoral, homosexuality is evil and the best way to deal with evil people is to put them in jail or kill them, then it is obvious that we will have a very different perception of Barak Obama than someone who is an intellectual pro-choice, atheist who doesn’t believe anything is evil.


Finally, each of us wants to see different things. We want to believe in certain versions of reality. If we were Republicans who supported George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan, it is likely that we wanted to hear negative things about Bill Clinton. Listening to the news we might unconsciously tune out information that was complementary to Clinton. We might pick up negative news more easily. Or, more likely, we would listen to people or read articles that suggest something negative about Clinton. After we have read and listened to many accounts about how terrible Bill Clinton is, we would have successfully reinforced what we wanted to believe in the first place.


Generally, we want to believe in things that make us feel good about ourselves or make us and the people we identify with look good. It’s easy for a Jew living in Israel to believe that Arab Palestinians are violent and untrustworthy. It would be painful to think that Israel has stolen Arab land and severely mistreated Palestinian Arabs. Of course one can turn this around for Palestinians; it is easy for them to believe that most Jews hate Arabs and intend to steal their land. Most people in the United States like to think of U.S. citizens as brave, freedom-loving people. It would be disturbing for these same people to think that they are bullies who use military might to push other countries around for the economic advantage of the United States.


Since it is the psychological component of perception that creates the major misunderstandings among humans, it might be helpful to look into it more carefully. A good principle to remember is that all humans have been programmed by their past and by their internal psychological makeup. There is no such thing as an "objective" human. We are all subjective, biased by our experiences and internal design. YOU ARE PROGRAMMED. You have perhaps chosen a small part of that programming; most of it, however, has been outside of your control.


The structure of the human brain is such that by the time you have perceived the name “Barak Obama”, the name has already passed through all of the information in your brain that was remotely related to the name itself. For example, it has passed through all of the programming having to do with black (somewhat at least) middle-aged males, the information relating to politicians, to people who are Democrats living in the USA in the 21rst Century, to U.S. presidents, to anything you have ever heard, read or thought about the particular individual named Barak Obama. Can you imagine the perception of this name by a young man or women in Cuba who has been brought up to admire a system they call socialism and a man called Fidel Castro? What perception is evoked by Hillary Clinton when she turns her sensors to this name?


You should understand that specific individuals and institutions have been your major programmers. Your parents, teachers and friends have been significant programmers. The institution most important in your programming relative to international politics has probably been the mass media. You should understand that the media in every country is biased. You will become aware of this if you travel and read newspapers or watch the news in other countries. In some countries the bias is easy to spot, in others it takes a more careful observer to see how the news is slanted. Often the bias is not particularly how something is reported, but whether or not it even makes the news, or if does make the news, where it is placed in a newspaper or magazine is important. When and for how long it is mentioned on radio or television conveys its importance. In the USA, for example, if three Israelis were stabbed to death in Jerusalem by a Palestinian, the probability is that it would make the front page of most newspapers and be on in the first few minutes of a radio or television newscast. If three Palestinian youths were shot by the Israeli military the story would most likely not receive such prominent coverage. In Pakistan or Iran the coverage would be much different.


The exposure we have had to the media has affected our beliefs and expectations, and therefore, our current perceptions. For example, a communist recently won the race for Mayor in Bologna, Italy. The perception that you have of that event is flavored by your beliefs about communism and Italians. Another example: a UN commission called the Truth Commission held the military of El Salvador responsible for murdering six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her young daughter, in addition to killing approximately 10,000 others over a fifteen-year period of time. The military during that time was fighting against a guerilla movement that was headed by many Marxists. The United States spent billions of dollars supporting the government and military of El Salvador during this time period. Fidel Castro and the USSR supported the guerilla movement. Can you see how beliefs concerning Jesuit priests, young women, Marxism, Fidel Castro and the government of the USA all affect perception?


More hidden to us are internal psychological structures and tendencies. Virtually all beings have been programmed for self-preservation. This is instinctual. Related to this is, in this writer’s opinion, an innate understanding or feeling that we are good. You don’t need to be taught that you are good; you assume it; you live it. It may be that you and I have done foolish things and that we are not all that we could be; but we have a natural instinct and need to like ourselves. If we didn’t have a basic, unspoken knowledge of our own value, we would not continue our existence for long. Of course, sometimes things override this instinct and we commit suicide. But this is rare; you and I generally do not consciously do things that are self-destructive. Try pinching yourself hard for a moment. Do you have to tell yourself to stop? No. You have been programmed to preserve yourself; to avoid pain. The same is true of psychological pain; we avoid it if possible. We don’t need to be told to stay away from people who don’t like us and who put us down or insult us. We just do it—if we can. On the job and at home this isn’t always possible.


Unfortunately, there are some things that cause us some physical pain or discomfort, but through education we know we have to do them for our own well being. Exercising can be painful, so can injections, but we know that they can help us in the long run, so we endure them. Similarly, we sometimes avoid things that give us pleasure, like ice cream, or smoking, or some drugs, because we know they can be harmful to us. The same is true of psychological pain. We are naturally programmed to avoid it, but at times it is necessary to our long-term happiness to suffer some anguish and hurt.


Since we have a natural tendency to like ourselves it is generally easy for us to believe positive things about ourselves. We naturally want to believe positive things; therefore, we often do. Many of us see our countries as extensions of ourselves. We see the people in our country generally as good. To the extent that other people and other countries are different, it is easier to believe negative things about them. If your country becomes involved in a military conflict the probability is that you will have a very negative perception of the death of soldiers in your country’s armed forces. You will wish to believe that your country was right when it became involved in the conflict. Frequently you and I are not conscious of these wants and needs, but they are helping to create our perceptions; and while most times these unconscious desires serve us well, sometimes they are extremely dangerous.


Racism and Nationalism are often results of thinking things that make us feel good, but can end up causing enormous carnage. It is natural and easy to see people who are like us as good. If someone challenges your people or country it is easy to see them negatively.


There are psychological processes called defense mechanisms that we as individuals, or groups of like individuals, such as ethnic groups or nations, use to help us feel good about ourselves or to avoid emotional pain. Although definitions vary somewhat, a defense mechanism is a largely subconscious or unconscious psychological process that distorts reality to protect a person from emotional pain or discomfort. The key words are "distort reality." You and I may be exposed to the same event but we see or perceive different things based on what we unconsciously wish to see.


Probably the most commonly used defense mechanism in everyday life and in international politics is rationalization. This is a tendency to justify our actions or those of our country by explanations that make us or our country look good to ourselves and others. Why did the USA become involved in a war in Iraq? If you ask someone from the USA he might say, to protect the people of Iraq from an evil dictator and to protect the USA from terrorism. Most Moslem Arabs seem to believe that the major reason the USA went into Iraq is to gain control of that country’s petroleum resources or at least control the Iraqi government which would own most of the petroleum. They tend to believe that it is the USA and other Western countries that are responsible for the poverty of most Arabs because the West has stolen the oil of these countries. It wouldn’t be easy for most U.S. citizens to think that its government primarily acted out of materialistic greed. Nor is it easy for many Arabs to believe that they and their relatives are responsible for the poverty or military weakness of their countries.


We cannot trust our explanation of our behavior to ourselves or others, nor can we trust our beliefs about the motivations of our countries. We don’t know fully why we think or behave as we do. We often give self-serving explanations because these explanations help us feel good about ourselves and our countries—which, again, we often perceive as extensions of ourselves.


Imagine for a moment the different answers you might get if you asked a Mexican and a US citizen why it was that the USA annexed almost a third of Mexico after the Mexican-American war? Another example would be why the United States and the Soviet Union spent so much money on weapons, especially nuclear weapons, during the cold war? The governments of both countries said it was for the protection of their countries from hostile enemies. Clearly, however, both countries used their military power to intimidate other countries for their own economic or political advantage. If we created these weapons for defense against each other why is it that we don't greatly reduce or eliminate them now that we are no longer enemies?


Another defense mechanism that is often seen in international relations is projection. This is a tendency to project onto others faults or negative traits that we possess ourselves, but do not wish to recognize. We exaggerate in others what we do not wish to see in ourselves. When someone disagrees with us, it’s easy to see how stubborn or poorly informed he is. It’s not so easy to see the same things in ourselves. How many of us clearly see others being inconsiderate drivers? Are we thoughtless drivers? No.


Projection doesn’t necessarily mean that others do not possess the qualities that we see in them. It does mean that we often exaggerate what we see in others and ignore our own faults because we do not wish to see them. Often we see (and exaggerate) in others traits we possess ourselves but don’t want to face up to. People in Iraq who attack U.S. soldiers and sympathizers of the government that the USA helped to create are seen as terrorists by many U.S. citizens. We in the USA see ourselves as being peace loving people who are trying to give the Iraqis a democratic government. Many in Iraq see us as evil invaders of their country. They see their friends who perform suicide bombings as heroes and martyrs. The leader of Libya, Khadafy, saw Ronald Reagan as a terrorist because he bombed Libya and frightened many people. Ronald Reagan saw Khadafy as a terrorist because he believed that Khadafy supported groups who bombed U.S. facilities and citizens. George H. Bush (Sr.) said that Saddam Hussein was using his military to push other countries around and that he was stubborn and unreasonable for not removing his troops from Kuwait after he (Bush Sr.) told him to. Hussein pleaded for the United States to sit down and discuss the situation before military action was taken. After the USA and its allies drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait, Hussein blasted Bush for being too stubborn to discuss things and for pushing smaller countries around with his military. Perhaps one hundred thousand people died in the Gulf War, most of them Iraqi soldiers. Who was responsible for their deaths? If the U.S. government was mostly responsible what does that say about the U.S. government and the people who supported its actions? If Hussein was primarily responsible what does that say about him and those who support him?


Although it is much easier to see the faults of other people or countries, we need to be able to recognize our own defects to be able to improve ourselves. Becoming conscious of our tendencies to distort reality is an important step to positive change. In international politics we need to look carefully at explanations that make our country or its leaders look good. We should understand that our fellow nationals will want to think well of themselves and will more easily accept explanations that make our country look good. Very often a less complementary explanation of our country’s behavior or motives is closer to the truth. Most countries elect or have leaders who gain power or keep it by telling us how wonderful we are and how bad our enemies are. We tend to support people who help us deceive ourselves about ourselves.


On an individual or personal basis it is perhaps even more important to examine ones’ perceptions with a skeptical eye. We often have very closed images, images that are extremely resistant to change. Frequently these images or perceptions make us feel good about ourselves. The images are closed because we have an emotional investment in them. We want to believe them. Often we have believed them for a long time and have acted on these beliefs. If we doubted them now and admitted we were wrong, it would make us look foolish. How easy would it be for a person who has been a Catholic for forty years to doubt his or her religion? A person who has been a liberal Democrat for fifty years will find it very difficult to believe that Republicans really have a better understanding of the relationship of free markets to free speech than Democrats do. Someone who has been a Moslem for thirty years is not likely to consider the possibility that the Jewish religion contains more truth than his.


As students of international politics we need to be aware of how our culture and country affect our perceptions. We need to wary of easy explanations and arguments that make us feel good about our country. We should feel good about our country; there is much to be proud of. But this love can get carried away. It can result in something ugly, rather than beautiful.


Read the following paragraph.


Be proud of your race. It is a special race. It is better in most ways than other races. In fact it is the best race in the world and you are indeed fortunate to be a member of it. Help those who are of your race. Those who oppose your race must be considered the enemy. If another race or ethnic group attacks or insults your race or threatens it in any way, it is right to fight them. If members of your race are fighting other races you must support your race at all costs. Better a hundred or a thousand of them die than one person of your race.


I assume that most of you would see the danger in this type of thinking.


Now substitute the word "country" for "race" in the above paragraph and read it again.

  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   18

Похожие:

Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconPolitical Development of the World System
Кочакова 1995. However, when we try to apply this scheme to the political development of the World System, it becomes evident that...
Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation icon1. Religious world leaders political & international organisations world leaders military world leaders email lists please contact everyone!!!

Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconPolitical Systems of the World. An Ideal Politician

Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconArea 08 Civil Engineering and Architecture, Area 01 Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Area 14 Political and Social Sciences, Area 09 Industrial and

Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconPolitical Philosophy: The Essential Texts

Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconRights Movement "A world without Nazism"
Н. Тихонова) and E. Hasis (Е. Хасис), convicted for the murder of a lawyer S. Markelov (С. Маркелов) and journalist A. Baburova (А....
Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconAnd Political Development of the World System
Гринин 2006а); b) development of trade (Ekholm 1977; Webb 1975)4; and c) growth of wealth5
Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconPublished in Turchin P., Grinin L. E., de Munck, V. C. and Korotayev, A. V. (eds.), History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex
Кочакова 1995. However, when we try to apply this scheme to the political development of the World System, it becomes evident that...
Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconSeminar in Political Psychology Political Science 512

Why we believe what we do in the political world is essential to comprehending the political behavior of ourselves as well as others. One of the more important concepts in the social sciences is that humans do not see the outside world directly; we see a representation iconSchool of Social & Political Science

Разместите кнопку на своём сайте:
Библиотека


База данных защищена авторским правом ©lib.znate.ru 2014
обратиться к администрации
Библиотека
Главная страница