Dissident Voice

Dissident Voice
20 Mar 2023 | 5:00 pm

1. Patriotism and Sinophobia

People such as former US military men like Scott Ritter and Douglas MacGregor provide excellent analysis on the geopolitics and warring in Ukraine. Ritter and McGregor are two Americans apparently able to relay a perspective based on their own take of a situation, a take independent of government pronouncements and home media reports. Nonetheless, despite reporting their government's involvement in a proxy war and being well aware of US imperialism and war crimes, these men feel the need to profess their love of country. This is despite their country stirring up wars abroad; stealing oil and wheat in Syria; withholding money that belongs to the poor people of Afghanistan; having overthrown or trying to overthrow governments in Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Bolivia, Peru, Russia, etc.; leaving Americans without healthcare to fend for themselves as well as the homeless and destitute; carrying out a slow-motion assassination of Julian Assange; forcing Edward Snowden to live in exile; and a war against several other whistleblowers, Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, to name a few. So why the need to express an undying love for country?

One must not be harsh, as one can assume that to not declare an unwavering patriotism would put these independent speakers at risk of a harsh backlash.

I admire Ritter and MacGregor for their independent streak. (I also appreciate the analysis of former US marine Brian Berletic who does not engage in rah-rah for the United States, but then he is an ex-pat).

Of course, that an ex-military man can provide excellent military analysis does not mean that views expressed outside one's bailiwick are equally profound. Such views may even be deserving of criticism or censure.

In a recent video, MacGregor is interviewed by Stephen Gardner (who displays a large Star and Stripes in the background). MacGregor imparts a perspective that is at odds with that trotted out by his government and the US monopoly media concerning warring in Ukraine.

However, a final question that Gardner posed to MacGregor was rather revealing in a very negative light.

Gardner tendentiously asks (around 29:25), "You mentioned that the humane thing would be for the United States to step in and say this war is over; let's be done. Don't you feel like China is trying to fill that vacuum, where they are now saying, 'Oh Saudi Arabia and Iran, there's a lot of money to be made, let's broker peace. Russia, Ukraine, hey, the United States is not going to step in; we are going to step in and broker peace.' Is this one more way for China to try to eclipse the United States on the world stage?"

What basis does Garner have for posing such a loaded question? Gardner ascribes selfish motives to China's seeking to broker peace. One assumes that making war is preferable in Garner's estimation. When has China ever boasted that it aspires to eclipse any country or be top dog? China eschews hegemony, and it consistently states its preference for a multipolar world, a world of peace, and developing win-win relationships with countries. Africans, long pillaged by Europeans and the Anglo diaspora, know this well.

MacGregor responded well, at first, "Well, first of all, I do not subscribe to the view that China wants to eclipse us." Fine, but this was immediately and emphatically followed by: "They know they can't." This comes across as chest thumping, USA, USA, USA, from a former military man.

This is followed by a several assertions: "They [China] have serious problems internally, as well." He opines that China "is too big to do more than it has already done." He asserts that China's chairman Xi Jinping wakes everyday wondering how to hold the country together. He does not cite one example to substantiate what he says. Under Xi, China eliminated extreme poverty and it is on the path to moderate prosperity. If only the US could come close to such monumental achievements for its citizenry. China is forging ties with nations from around the world with its Belt and Road initiative. This is what Xi thinks about each day – not the nonsense MacGregor espouses.

Most disturbingly, MacGregor reveals himself in the video to be a Sinophobe by making all kinds of wild racist assertions; e.g., (at 32:14) "No one in central Asia trusts the Chinese; no one in Asia beyond the China's borders trusts the Chinese [followed by snickering]."

"People… are all very concerned about the Chinese… the Chinese do what they have always done, if you leave it on the table, they'll steal it. That's what they do; they've been doing it for thousands of years."

Now replace the word "Chinese" with "Jews" and imagine the torrent of outrage that would flow in the West.

The post Patriotism and Sinophobia first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
20 Mar 2023 | 4:00 pm

2. Pro-Israel and Ukraine Groups Use Identity Politics to Attack Free Speech

Questioning Canada's contribution to NATO's proxy war is "hate" that must be shut down according to some Ukrainian groups mimicking Zionist organizations by promoting an identity politics laced cancel culture.

A Ukrainian student group sought to cancel my talk at Kings College in London, Ontario, on Thursday. In "Western Ukrainian Students' Association Statement on The King's University College Yves Engler Event", they called me an "apologist to a bloodthirsty regime … who spreads disinformation and uses Russian propaganda talking points." They also argued that I "endanger victims of colonialism everywhere" and my speaking "may also incite violence on campus." The statement boldly concluded, "we cannot allow a proponent of hateful disinformation and Russian propaganda on our campuses in any capacity."

I have referred to the Russian invasion as "illegal" and "brutal" in dozens of articles and interviews. But I've also challenged Canada's role in provoking and escalating the conflict. In a sign of their fanaticism, the event at Western wasn't even about Ukraine but rather Canada's contribution to Palestinian dispossession.

A few days before the Western Ukrainian Students' Association released their statement a master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs published a similar attack on a January event I did with Tamara Lorincz and Miguel Figueroa. The Chair of the Carleton University Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and Model NATO, Matthew Selinger, labelled me a "master of historical revisionism that runs in line with Russian propaganda." The former Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) intern concluded with a call to defund Carleton's Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) for simply having booked the room used for the Ottawa Peace Council event titled "The War in Ukraine: What is the Path to Peace?"

In the Charlatan student paper Selinger wrote that OPIRG needed to be held "accountable for exploiting its campus status for malignant purposes. Should OPIRG refuse to condemn the speakers' messages and halt sponsorship of future events that trot out Kremlin disinformation as a rational perspective, then defunding must be pursued. This panel should've never taken place on campus. Carleton's deafening silence on the hateful and vilifying rhetoric towards Ukrainian students can be corrected, among other recommendations, by drafting an official policy on combating disinformation in non-departmental events."

Immediately after the event the Charlatan published "Carleton student groups address anti-Ukrainian hate on campus" about the Carleton Ukrainian Students' Club bid to have our event canceled.

An even more intense campaign of vilifying antiwar voices as "hate" has taken place in recent months at the University of Victoria.

On March 14 the parent organization of the campus groups demanded the federal government take action against "anti-Ukrainian hate". In "UCC calls on Government of Canada to address rising tide of anti-Ukrainian hate", the right-wing lobby group demanded Ottawa "issue a public statement unequivocally condemning the rising pattern of hate-motivated attacks against the Ukrainian Canadian community and supporters of Ukraine; Develop and deliver programs to educate the public and counter disinformation that incites hatred against Ukrainians." (Notwithstanding the claims, there's likely never been greater sympathy for Ukrainian Canadians, a community that's faced its share of discrimination, including large-scale internment during and after World War I.)

Where have you heard this type of rhetoric before? The UCC and its campus affiliates are taking a page from the Zionist playbook. (In fact, a day after the Western Ukrainian Students' Association denounced me, three anti-Palestinian Jewish groups released a statement that demanded "King's University College should not provide a podium for Engler to use to spread his hateful views.")

Well-resourced, US empire aligned, Israel lobby groups constantly smear activists and demand events be shut down or individuals be cancelled. The recent attacks against Hamilton Centre NDP candidate (now Ontario MPP) Sarah Jama are an egregious example. They smeared the 29-year-old wheelchair bound Black female activist as anti-Jewish for having stood against apartheid. From smearing individuals to promoting an anti-Palestinian definition of antisemitism, the Israel lobby promotes an identity politics infused cancel culture.

Ironically, right-wingers who normally bash cancel culture and identity politics stay mum about the Zionist or NATO proxy warriors' tactics.

Groups aligned with powerful forces who seek to suppress discussion of important international issues on the grounds of their "hurt feelings" deserve criticism and contempt. Just don't expect it to come from the usual sources in the mainstream media. They're too busy promoting war and defending an apartheid state.

The post Pro-Israel and Ukraine Groups Use Identity Politics to Attack Free Speech first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
20 Mar 2023 | 3:55 pm

3. Criminals at Large: The Iraq War Twenty Years On

The arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for Russian President Vladimir Putin came at an opportune moment. It was, if nothing else, a feeble distraction over the misdeeds and crimes of other leaders current and former. Russia, not being an ICC member country, does not acknowledge that court's jurisdiction. Nor, for that matter, does the United States, despite the evident chortling from US President Joe Biden.

Twenty years on, former US President George W. Bush, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Australia's own John Howard, the troika most to blame for not just the criminal invasion of a foreign country but the regional and global cataclysm consequential to it, remain at large. Since then, Bush has taken to painting; Blair and Howard have preferred to sell gobbets of alleged wisdom on the lecture circuit.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US-led Coalition of the Willing was a model exercise of maligning the very international system of rules Washington, London and Canberra speak of when condemning their latest assortment of international villains. It recalled those sombre words of the International Military Tribunal, delivered at the Nuremberg war crimes trials in 1946: "War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The invasion of Iraq defied the UN Security Council as the sole arbiter on whether the use of force would be necessary to combat a genuine threat to international peace and security. It breached the UN Charter. It encouraged instances of horrendous mendacity (those stubbornly spectral weapons of mass destruction) and the inflation of threats supposedly posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

This included the unforgettable British contribution about Saddam's alleged ability to launch chemical and biological weapons in 45 minutes. As Blair declared to MPs in September 2002: "It [the intelligence service] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes."

Putin, not one to suffer amnesia on this point, also noted this fact in his speech made announcing Russia's attack on Ukraine. Iraq, he noted, had been invaded "without any legal grounds." Lies, he said, were witnessed "at the highest state level and voiced from the high UN rostrum. As a result, we see a tremendous loss of human life, damage, destruction, and a colossal upsurge of terrorism."

In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, the infrastructure of the country was ruined, its army and public service disbanded, leaving rich pools of disaffected recruits for the insurgency that followed. The country, torn between Shia, Sunni and Kurd and governed by an occupation force of colossal ineptitude, suffered an effective collapse, leaving a vacuum exploited by jihadis and, in time, Islamic State.

Since the invasion, a number of civil society efforts have been undertaken against the dubious triumvirate of evangelist warmongers. The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, convened over four days in November 2011, invoked universal jurisdiction in finding Bush, Blair and their accomplices guilty of the act of aggression.

Despite its unmistakable political flavour – the original body had been unilaterally established by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad – its reasoning was sound enough. The invasion of Iraq could not "be justified under any reasonable interpretation of international law" and threatened "to return us to a world in which the law of the jungle prevails over the rule of law, with potentially disastrous consequences for the human rights not only of the Iraqis but of the people throughout the region and the world".

The Sydney-based SEARCH Foundation also resolved to submit a complaint to the ICC in 2012, hoping that the body would conduct an investigation and issue a warrant for Howard's arrest. In September 2013, a complaint was filed by Peter Murphy, Secretary of the Foundation, alleging, among a range of offences, the commission of acts of aggression, breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights, and crimes against peace. The effort failed, leaving Howard irritatingly free.

In two decades, the United States still finds itself embroiled in Iraq, with 2,500 troops stationed in a capacity that is unlikely to stop anytime too soon. That said, the parallels with Afghanistan are already being drawn. In 2022, the outgoing head of US Central Command, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, trotted out his dream about what would happen. "You want to get to the state where nations, and security elements in those nations, can deal with a violent extremist threat without direct support from us."

Ironically enough, such violent extremist threats had more than a little help in their creation from Washington's own disastrous intervention. Eventually, the Iraqis would simply have to accept "to take a larger share of all the enabling that we're doing now."

The calamity of Iraq is also a salutary warning to countries willing to join any US-led effort, or rely on the good grace of Washington's power. To be an enemy of the United States might be dangerous, but as Henry Kissinger reminds us, to be a friend might prove fatal.

The post Criminals at Large: The Iraq War Twenty Years On first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
19 Mar 2023 | 4:49 am

4. Spent Matters: The AUKUS Nuclear Waste Problem

When Australia – vassal be thy name – assumed responsibilities for not only throwing money at both US and British shipbuilders, lending up territory and naval facilities for war like a gambling drunk, and essentially asking its officials to commit seppuku for the Imperium, another task was given. While the ditzy and dunderheaded wonders in Canberra would be acquiring submarines with nuclear propulsion technology, there would be that rather problematic issue of what to do with the waste. "Yes," said the obliging Australians, "we will deal with it."

The Australian Defence Department has published a fact sheet on the matter, which, as all such fact sheets go, fudges the facts and sports a degree of misplaced optimism. It promises a "sophisticated security and safety architecture" around the nuclear-powered submarine program, "building on our 70-year unblemished track record of operating nuclear facilities and conducting nuclear science activities."

This record, which is rather more blemished than officials would care to admit, does not extend to the specific issues arising from maintaining a nuclear-powered submarine fleet and the high-level waste that would require shielding and cooling. In the context of such a vessel, this would entail pulling out and disposing of the reactor once the submarine is decommissioned.

Australia's experience, to date, only extends to the storage of low-level waste and intermediate-level waste arising from nuclear medicine and laboratory research, with the low-level variant being stored at over a hundred sites in the country. That situation has been regarded as unsustainable and politically contentious.

The department admits that the storage and disposal of such waste and spent fuel will require necessary facilities and trained personnel, appropriate transport, interim and permanent storage facilities and "social license earned and sustained with local and regional communities." But it also notes that the UK and the US "will assist Australia in developing this capability, leveraging Australia's decades of safely and securely managing radioactive waste domestically".

That's mighty good of them to do so, given that both countries have failed to move beyond the problem of temporary storage. In the UK, the issue of disposing waste from decommissioned nuclear submarines remains stuck in community consultation. In the US, no option has emerged after the Obama administration killed off a repository program to store waste underneath Nevada's Yucca Mountain. The reasons for doing so, sulked Republicans at the time, were political rather than technical.

Where, then, will the facilities to store and dispose of such waste be located? "Defence – working with relevant agencies including the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency – will undertake a review in 2023 to identify locations in the current or future Defence estate that could be suitable to store and dispose of intermediate-level waste and high-level waste, including spent fuel."

The various state premiers are already suggesting that finding a site will be problematic. Both Victoria and Western Australia are pointing fingers at South Australia as the logical option, while Queensland has declared that "under no circumstances" would it permit nuclear waste to be stored. "I think the waste can go where all the jobs are going," remarked Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. "I don't think that's unreasonable, is it?"

Western Australia's Mark McGowan, in furious agreement, suggested that a site "somewhere remote, somewhere with very good long-term geological structure that doesn't change or move and somewhere that is defence lands" narrowed down the options. "[T]hat's why Woomera springs to mind."

South Australia's Premier, Peter Malinauskas, insists that the waste should go "where it is in the nation's interest to put it" and not be a matter of "some domestic political tit-for-tat, or some state-based parochial thing."

When it comes to storing nuclear waste, parochialism is all but guaranteed. The Australian government is already facing a legal challenge from traditional owners regarding a 2021 decision to locate a nuclear waste site at Kimba in South Australia. The effort to find a site for the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility intended for low and intermediate radioactive waste produced by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation at Lucas Heights, New South Wales, took three decades.

According to members of the First Nations group opposing the decision, the proposed facility risks interfering with a sacred site for women. Dawn Taylor, a Barngarla woman and Kimba resident, told the ABC that, "The Seven Sisters is through that area." She feared that the waste facility would end up "destroying" the stories associated with the dreaming.

The federal resources minister, Madeleine King, has stated with little conviction that a cultural heritage management plan "informed by the research of the Barngarla people" is in place. "There are strict protocols around the work that is going on right now to make sure there is no disturbance of cultural heritage."

Local farmers, including the consistently vocal Peter Woolford, are also opposed to the project. "We just can't understand why you would expose this great agricultural industry we have here in grain production to any potential risk at all by having a nuclear waste dump here."

The Australian security establishment may well be glorifying in the moment of AUKUS, itself an insensibly parochial gesture of provocation and regional destabilisation, but agitated residents and irate state politicians are promising a good deal of sensible mischief.

The post Spent Matters: The AUKUS Nuclear Waste Problem first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
18 Mar 2023 | 5:06 pm

5. African Scholar: Only China Can Deter America from Hegemony

Kyeretwie Opoku, convener of the Socialist Movement of Ghana, speaks to why China presents a peaceful path for the future co-prosperity of the world.

The post African Scholar: Only China Can Deter America from Hegemony first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
18 Mar 2023 | 4:58 pm

6. U.S. and Allies Seek Regime-Change in Russia

On 10 March, Canada's National Post headlined "Regime change in Moscow 'definitely' the goal, Joly says," and reported that "Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly raises the possibility of regime change in Moscow. … 'The goal is definitely to do that, is to weaken Russia's ability to launch very difficult attacks against Ukraine. We want also to make sure that Putin and his enablers are held to account,' she said. 'I always make a difference between the regime and the people of a given country, which is fundamental.'"

On 26 March 2022, Bloomberg News bannered "Joe Biden Calls for Regime Change in Moscow as He Likens Invasion to Ww2 Horrors," and reported that, "Joe Biden directly appealed to the Russian people with comparisons between the invasion of Ukraine and the horrors of the Second World War as he called for Vladimir Putin to go. 'For God's sake this man cannot remain in power,' the US president said, calling for regime change in Moscow during a speech from Poland on Saturday. He told Russians they are not 'our enemy'."

Why were there not calls, within the United States and its allies, for "regime-change in America" when U.S. President George W. Bush blatantly lied Americans into invading and destroyed a country that posed no threat to America, Iraq (which — by contrast — Ukraine definitely did and does constitute to Russia)?

Contrary to U.S.-and-allied propagandists, that war in Ukraine wasn't started on 24 February 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine, but back in February 2014 when U.S. President Barack Obama's Administration had started by no later than June of 2011 to plan, and by no later than 1 March 2013 inside the U.S.'s Ukrainian Embassy to execute the plan, and then on 20 February 2014 to culminate the U.S. coup that overthrew and replaced Ukraine's democratically elected neutralist President, and replaced him and his Government with the U.S. selected leaders of the new, and rabidly Russia-hating, U.S.-controlled, Ukrainian regime.

And, now, on 17 March 2023, NBC News headlines "International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Putin over alleged Ukraine war crimes"  and reports that the U.S.-and-allied regimes are starting a case in the International Criminal Court — which has no jurisdiction over Russia and over Ukraine and over the United States, all three of which nations refused to ratify and therefore are not subject to that Court's jurisdiction (since it's not a "Universal" court like the U.N.'s  International Court of Justice is) — initiating this purely propaganda case against Russia. Why did they not do that against America and the UK, when those regimes invaded and destroyed Iraq on the basis only of lies (which Russia certainly did not do in the case of the now U.S.-controlled Ukraine)?

Wikipedia makes this elementary fact about that Court quite clear, by saying:

It lacks universal territorial jurisdiction and may only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states, crimes committed by nationals of member states, or crimes in situations referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council.

The U.S. and its allies are bringing this case as a propaganda-vehicle, but the Court itself, by 'investigating' this case that falls outside its jurisdiction, is destroying whatever pitiful international credibility that it had. Any court that ever serves a purely-propaganda function cannot ever again be taken seriously by any serious person. It is groveling to someone. It is simply embarrassing itself. The U.S. and its allies are contemptuous not only of the public but of this Court, to do this.

Furthermore: the U.S.-and-allied allegations that regime-change is being sought only against a country's leadership, and not against the country's people, is ludicrous, because those aggressor-countries' long histories of imposed regime-changes against Governments they wanted to topple — such as Chile, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and all the rest — have always been from bad to worse against the targeted countries' publics. Moreover, the U.S. regime has repeatedly made explicitly clear that, though all of the devastation that its invasion and continued occupation and massive thefts from Syria have brought hell upon its people, the U.S. Government absolutely refuses to allow any reconstruction to occur in Syria unless the U.S. is controlling that country.

Although the U.S. and its allies demand regime-change in both Russia and China, the leaders of those two countries have long had far higher approval-ratings by their citizens than the leaders in U.S.-and allied countries have by theirs; the regime-changes should rather be done in the U.S.-and-allied countries than in their targeted countries.

The U.S., and its allies, lie pathologically, such as they do as NATO:

"NATO is not a threat to Russia."

"NATO has tried to build a partnership with Russia, developing dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest. Practical cooperation has been suspended since 2014 in response to Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, Ukraine, which NATO will never recognise."

"NATO is not at war with Russia."

How can anyone respect such Governments?

The post U.S. and Allies Seek Regime-Change in Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
18 Mar 2023 | 4:19 pm

7. The Causes of Dogmatism


In part I of this series, following the work of Judy J. Johnson in What's so Wrong with Being Absolutely Right: The Dangerous Nature of Dogmatic Belief, we identified dogmatism — not as the content of a particular ideology but as a process of thinking, emoting and acting. We distinguished dogmatism from fanaticism and clarified the differences between dogmatism and open-minded thinking. I spent most the article defining 14 characteristics of dogmatism. Five are cognitive, four are emotional and five are behavioral.

In this article, Part II, we examine the many causes of dogmatism — moving from sociological, to social psychological, to psychological to bioevolutionary and physiological. I will include my own research in sociology and cognitive psychology to support Judy's book. The image above illustrates that despite the dogmatists' aggression and scapegoating of groups lower them themselves in the hierarchy, they are slavishly obedient to those above them.

Socio-economic Causes: Contracting Economy, Class and Race Dynamics

Sociologists have found that race relations get better or worse depending on whether the capitalist economy is contracting or expanding. In an economy where jobs are relatively plentiful there are less incidents of racial violence. But when the economy is contracting race relations get worse. Why is this?

Whether or not capitalists intend to, they benefit from racism between workers on their job site. Capitalists have always paid white workers more money and given them privileges relative to Blacks. What is the likely fallout? There will be racial animosity. Black workers will be angry that white workers are being paid more money to do the same work. White workers will look for and find ideologies like racism and fascism to help justify these inequalities. Both white and Black workers face the same problem. They work very hard under difficult circumstances and are not paid very much. They have two choices. The first is either they see their problem as part of a questionable capitalist system or not. If they see that it is, they will unite on the basis of occupying the same class. The other choice is for white workers to think they have more in common with white employers on the basis of race and ignore their class commonalties with Black workers. If they do that, they are likely to be susceptible to many of the fourteen characteristics of dogmatism.

Small business owners are also caught in a bind. In a contracting economy, compared to corporate capitalists, the small business owner is likely to go under. They are also faced with two ways to make sense of things. One is to choose a structural response which is to demand that the state give them more protection so that they are not gobbled up by corporate capitalists. But the other is to blame their workers for wanting more money. In order to make up some of their losses they pays workers less than corporate capitalists pay. In order to keep workers from unionizing they will pay white workers more than Blacks and attack Black workers for being too greedy. After all, they rationalize, the Blacks should be grateful the owner has even hired them. If the small business owners make the second choice, they too are likely to have many of the fourteen characteristics of dogmatism. In fact, in the last two "elections" in Mordor, labor historian Kim Moody has shown that small business owners have the highest percentage of voting for fascists.

This economic, class and race analysis will help explain three of the behavioral characteristics named in Part I. This includes preoccupation with power and status; glorification of in-group and vilification of out-group; and dogmatic authoritarian aggression towards minorities.

Psychology of Dogmatism in Early Childhood Development

Johnson points out that when parents are uninformed, indifferent or malevolent and fail to satisfy their baby's emotional and social needs it is hard for the child to develop a sense of resilience.

Prolonged separation from the primary caregiver causes emotional, cognitive and social disorganization. When repeated attempts fail to make a connection to the caregiver, they may react with clinginess or aggressive confrontation. These children learn to mistrust themselves and others because they cannot get past the burdensome thoughts and anxiety that erode their self-confidence. (369)

One mother might assume that more often than not, her baby's crying is manipulative or attention-seeking. Still others respond with alternating periods of tender loving care, normal distancing, smothering enmeshment, negligence and even abuse. Adopting beliefs and holding them with adamant certainly will compensate for childhood insecurities Insecure attachment and the ensuring anxiety may also be converted to dogmatic authoritarian aggression. (370-371)

Young children with a history of neglect or abuse experience chronic hyperarousal that elevates their hormone level and causes chaotic biochemical alternations… This aggregate of misfortune also impairs the development of empathy. (363)

Johnson points out that in Erikson's eight psychosocial stages of development, these types of problems would correspond to Erikson's first stage of trust vs mistrust. But I see connections between dogmatism and Erikson's second and third stages as well. Erikson's second stage is autonomy vs shame and doubt. Autonomy means the child is practicing saying "no" (also known as the terrible twos). The third stage is initiative vs guilt. Initiative means saying "yes" to activities the child chooses. I see no reason why the budding young dogmatist would also be carrying both shame and doubt along with guilt as developmental baggage. This is because the authoritarian parents would not easily tolerate a child who defies them (saying no) or chooses activities that are not on the parents' menu (initiative).

Dogmatism and Personality

Trait theory

According to trait theory one of the five major traits of a healthy personality is openness to experience. This consists of one's desire to seek and appreciate new experiences for their own sake. Openness also reflects tolerance for and exploration of the unfamiliar. Openness means a person is curious, imaginative, insightful and has wide interests, vivid fantasies and unconventional attitudes. Low scores in openness, indicate closemindedness including an unadventurous, unanalytical mind and narrowness of interest. This person is drawn to the familiar, practical and concrete. There is a lack of interest in experience for its own sake. The open and closed personalities of trait theory closely resemble the dogmatic vs open personalities we discussed in Part I of this article. The second global trait is neuroticism. This includes emotional instability and anxiety. It means constant worry with inadequate coping mechanisms. Among the 14 traits of dogmatism this corresponds to characteristic six.


According to Johnson, within the first two years of life, infants experience inexorable feelings of inferiority due to physical smallness, intellectual immaturity, poor eyesight or hearing and health problems. Adler says that to compensate for the inevitable inadequacies, they began striving for superiority which Freudians might call a reaction formation. Children raised in harsh, punitive or negligent environments create fictions that steer them away from social interest and towards mistaken lifestyles. The three mistaken lifestyles for Adler are:

  • The ruling type who seeks to dominate others
  • The getting type (goal is passive dependence)
  • The avoiding type who sidesteps issues

From an Adlerian perspective, dogmatic characteristics of authoritarian aggression and arrogant, dismissive communication are tendencies that evolved from the early childhood goals of the ruling type.

If the insecure child cannot gain his caretaker's love, safety and respect, the Divine Father would surely deliver the goods. These individuals do not go to church to maximize their social interest, but rather to both maximize their psychological survival and to minimize their self-doubt. Blind obedience to an authoritarian God is a tradeoff for a secure attachment that was not experienced as a child.

Karen Horney

According to Judy Johnson, feminist psychologist Karen Horney believed that basic anxiety that is prolonged beyond the normal range of anxiety has its origins in faulty parenting which includes parents who are dominating, intimidating, irritable, over-exacting and hypercritical. The second cause of anxiety is the unhealthy hyper-competitiveness of capitalist society.

For Horney, basic anxiety would be overcome by moving with people within a more cooperative society. If a person cannot live under those conditions there are three neurotic orientations: moving towards people, moving against people and moving away from people. Johnson writes that Horney's moving against is the most relevant to dogmatism. The neurotic becomes driven by a search for glory at the expense of a scapegoated group. The need to proselytize or dominate conversations are typical of moving against strategies.

But I see that Horney's neurotic trend of moving towards people can apply to the dogmatist's in-group and their authority figures. They move with obsequious conformity and obedience. They seek out authorities who seem superior and therefore capable of taking care of them

Cognitive psychology: layers of cognition

In this section I will be bringing in three layers of cognitive identity – cognitive distorted interpretations, pessimistic explanatory styles and irrational assumptions. While Judy Johnson does not use these layers in her search for the dogmatic personality, some of these characteristics can easily be connected.

Cognitive distortions

According to Aaron Beck the eight cognitive distortions are:

  1. Black and white thinking, which is also connected to catastrophizing. This was among the 14 dogmatic characteristics.
  2. Overgeneralization can easily be seen at work in relation to scapegoated groups.
  3. Over-personalization is at work when we talk about sensitivity to perceived insults.
  4. Magnification is operating in relation to perceived insults while minimalizing would be at play in evaluating the achievements of minorities.
  5. Distorted evidence – believing things without looking for good evidence is very common among dogmatists.
  6. Selective choice of evidence is occurring when dogmatists stereotype groups without looking for exceptions to the rules.
  7. Mind reading – misreading body cues, not asking people what they think because dogmatists lack interpersonal skill in conversations.
  8. Feelings of confusion with behavior trapped in feelings and not being able to recognize that actions are different from feelings.

Pessimistic explanatory styles

According to Martin Seligman, whenever a new dramatic situation appears there are three questions that go through people's minds:

  1. How long will this last?
  2. How will this affect the rest of my life?
  3. Who is responsible?

Let's say there is an economic crisis of some kind. The most pessimistic answers to these questions are that it will last forever, the rest of my life will be swept into the undertow, and I am responsible for the problem. The optimistic response to an economic crisis is it will be short-term (it will give me a chance to go to school or catch up in other areas of my life), it will not affect the rest of my life (I have solid support from my partner and family of origin) and I am not responsible (capitalism is in crisis all over the Western world). The dogmatist will have a pessimistic explanatory style. This matches one of the dogmatic characteristics, "excessive pessimism".

Irrational assumptions

Albert Ellis came up with these many years ago. Most of them can be seen in dogmatists:

  • It is a dire necessity for me to be loved or approved of by everyone for everything.
  • Some people are evil and they know the things they do are wrong, but they do them anyway.
  • It is terrible, horrible and catastrophic when things don't go my way.
  • Much human unhappiness is externally caused and is forced on one by outside people and events.
  • If something is dangerous or fearsome, worrying about it helps the situation.
  • It is easier to avoid than to face life's difficulties and self-responsibilities because it takes less energy.
  • I need to depend on someone or something greater than myself on whom I can rely.
  • I should be thoroughly competent, adequate, intelligent and successful always.
  • Because something once strongly affected my life, it should affect it indefinitely.
  • What other people do is vitally important to my existence and I should make great efforts to change them in the direction I wish.
  • Human happiness can be achieved by waiting for the right person or situation to come along.
  • I have virtually no control over my emotions and I can't help feeling certain things.

Clearly for the dogmatist, their early childhood background of neglect, inconsistency, and violence makes them desperate for approval, regardless of what they say. The second irrational assumption about people being evil fits easily with the dogmatist's perception of those they are scapegoating. The lack of tolerance of ambiguity makes all disappointments catastrophic and earth-shaking for the dogmatist. Because the dogmatist lacks the ability to self-reflect, they cannot see their own part in creating a negative situation. Everything is mechanically and externally driven.

Thinking that I need to depend on someone greater than myself fits right in with an authoritarian, fundamentalist religion or an authoritarian political (especially fascist) leader. Lastly, thinking I have no control over my emotions and I can't help feeling this way. Dogmatists have no idea of how cognitive interpretations, explanatory styles and assumptions have anything to do with their emotions. Emotions appear to be uncaused eruptions over which the person has no control.

Darwinian Evolutionary Biology

Judy Johnson names the following seven traits that have enabled primates to adapt and procreate during Paleolithic evolution and beyond:

  • Activity – total energy output that is expressed in vigorous, energized behavior
  • Fearfulness, cowering escape and wariness which activate physiological arousal of the autonomic nervous system
  • Impulsivity – acting on the spur of the moment without pause, planning or reflection
  • Sociability – preferring to be with others rather than live a solitary existence
  • Nurturance – helping others, which includes altruism
  • Aggressiveness – verbally and physically threatening or attacking others
  • Dominance – seeking and maintaining superior status over others


The pushiness of dogmatism and the insistence on aggressive conversion has its roots in dominance-seeking or aggressive tendencies that are part of the package of our evolutionary inheritance. I am not suggesting that dominance and aggressiveness are the only or leading characteristic of human beings. As you can see from the list, there are also traits for sociability and nurturance which counter dominance and aggressiveness. These primitive, old-brain adaptations are still present in our modern institutions which are the products for dominance, aggressiveness, sociability and nurturance. To include evolutionary Darwinian biology as part of a theory of dogmatism, we must address the survival value of rigidly clinging to beliefs and defending them with arrogant certainty. One answer to this is evolutionary. since the rate at which nature and society change is slow from the period of 100,000 years to 10,000 years (9/10 of our existence), it would pay not to change our beliefs too quickly.


A biological predisposition for anxiety is part of shaping dogmatism. While a sudden intense anxiety that might be adaptive thousands of years ago, today it may be a maladaptive tagalong that continues to fire. Although the characteristics of dogmatism are not just biologically based, higher than average levels of anxiety do have a biological basis. Physiologically, Johnson says that excessive anxiety is linked to defects in the GABA system (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Research reveals strong evidence for the genetic heritability of anxiety. Genes initially create an emotional predisposition for anxiety that structurally facilitates a dogmatic style in emotions.

Biological Physiology
Amygdala and extreme stress

The symptoms of PTSD occur in response to events outside the realm of normal human suffering such as natural disasters, combat fatigue and terrorist attacks or torture. While many of us have suffered from serious accident or illness, job loss or death of a loved one, most of us are resilient enough to return to our former selves of personality function. Dogmatists are less likely to do this.

An excitable amygdala is implicated in persistent anxiety and social inhibition. Johnson shows that:

Because molecular structures consolidate early childhood thoughts and emotions in circuits of long-term memory, these circuits continue to influence ongoing experience. In particular, prolonged distress or trauma,seriously impacts neural circuity. (292)

Researchers have found that when the amygdala, a midbrain structure, detects anything that signals danger, it activates an electrochemical fear response. Low-road reactions are instant, reflexive and protective. (296)

Rather than patiently waiting to understand the full context in order to determine how to react, our amygdala signals danger and we reflexively pull back. When at school or playing, if children are repeatedly teased or ridiculed, the felt anxiety may resurface in neutral or friendly social settings, which create overreactions in their interpersonal perceptions and interpretations. These children may become angry and defensive in response to open-ended, harmless questions.

An emotionally activated amygdala releases cortisol, a powerful hormone, the net effect of which is to disrupt hippocampal activity, weakening the ability of the temporal lobe memorial system to form explicit memories. Under prolonged stress cortisol representations of oneself, others and the surrounding world may become distorted. These proteins grow new synaptic connections that further alter brain circulates some of which become static, closed and invested in defensive structures to guard against anticipated assaults.(298)


There is a physiological price to be paid for prolonged anger. Johnson says:

Self-righteous anger is always twinned with physiological arousal of the sympathetic nervous system.  Research on physiological reactions of aggression, especially prolonged hostility, release the chronically elevated stress hormones that not only strain the coronary and gastrointestinal systems, they also impair immunological functioning (218)

 Lack of oxytocin

Children who are repeatedly denied cuddling, attention, playfulness and kindness have serious hormonal consequences:

Abusive or negligent parents limited the child's ability to regulate the length, intensity or frequency of distressing emotions like anger, terror or shame. This emotional dysregulation is further exacerbated if in infancy, a baby does not experience pleasurable releases of oxytocin and other brain chemical that are secreted during positions of social connection. Known as the hormone of love, oxytocin evokes an inner sense of emotional calm and balance (292)

Without loving, nurturing parents who activate the chemical that helps produce children's positive self-image, they are less resilient to stress and lose confidence in their ability to control their emotions.  Consequently, they may become clingy and dependent. Without such skills, these children are more likely to conform to group values and succumb to peer pressure even when it goes against their self-interest or morals. They have no awareness that this desperate conformity has anything to do with early emotional deprivation from caregivers.

Lack of dopamine

From research in trait theory, there is a biological basis of the "Openness to Experience" trait. Being open to new ideas and experiences is influenced by individual differences in the dopaminergic system. Since the polar opposite of openness is closedness, the closed-minded manner in which dogmatic people process information may be due in part to some failed mechanism in the transmission of dopamine.


Here is summary of all the factors that produce dogmatic cognition, emotion and behavior.


Some of these are from Judy Johnson, while others are my own.

  • PTSD (wars, rape, physical abuse, torture)
  • Economically contracted society
  • Economic competition between racially mixed working class
  • Economic competition between small business owners and corporate capitalists
  • Political groups with the financial means to ideologically seduce and indoctrinate the disenfranchised and psychologically vulnerable
  • Membership in narrow or closed-minded groups that offer a) the promise of social acceptances; b) individual recognition; c) honor and dignity
  • Joining a group on the basis of their rigid, authoritarian goals
  • Political and economic marginalization of youth
  • Inadequate state funding for educational infrastructure and support programs for cognitive impoverishment during childhood and adolescence


  • Parents who themselves have the characteristics of dogmatism
  • Parental styles of parenting which are anxious-ambivalent as opposed to secure
  • Parental inability to facilitate emotional regulation during infancy and childhood
  • Prolonged exposure to role models who seek revenge for past injustices
  • Early indoctrination of religious beliefs that discourage natural curiosity and open-minded questioning and reasoning throughout childhood and adolescence (like religious fundamentalism)
  • Institutional punishment (at school) for independent thought in childhood and adolescence


  • Closed personality, neuroticism (Big five)
  • Superiority complex, ruling type (Adler)
  • Moving towards, moving against (Horney)
  • Cognitive interpretation distortions, pessimistic explanatory styles, irrational assumptions


  • Innate evolutionary adaptations for dominance and aggressiveness that linger in modern brains


  • Biological predisposition for anxiety
  • Overly active amygdala
  • Lack of oxytocin
  • Lack of dopamine


The post The Causes of Dogmatism first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
18 Mar 2023 | 4:05 pm

8. The Need to Clue in

The post The Need to Clue in first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
18 Mar 2023 | 3:08 pm

9. My Lai, “Killing Ideology,” and Disobeying Orders

"We weren't there to kill human beings, really. We were there to kill ideology." (Lt. William Calley)

Officially termed an "incident" (as opposed to a "massacre"), the events of March 16, 1968, at My Lai — a hamlet in South Vietnam — are widely portrayed and accepted to this day as an aberration. While the catalog of U.S. war crimes in Southeast Asia is far too sordid and lengthy to detail here, it's painfully clear this was not the case.

In fact, on the very same day that Lt. William Calley entered into infamy, another U.S. company entered My Khe, a sister sub hamlet of My Lai. That visit has been described as such:

"In this 'other massacre,' members of this separate company piled up a body count of perhaps a hundred peasants — My Khe was smaller than My Lai — 'flattened the village' by dynamite and fire, and then threw handfuls of straw on corpses. The next morning, this company moved on down the Batangan Peninsula by the South China Sea, burning every hamlet they came to, killing water buffalo, pigs, chickens, and ducks, and destroying crops. As one of the My Khe veterans said later, 'what we were doing was being done all over.' Said another: 'We were out there having a good time. It was sort of like being in a shooting gallery.'

Colonel Oran Henderson, charged with covering up the My Lai killings, put it succinctly in 1971: "Every unit of brigade size has its My Lai hidden someplace."

Of the 26 U.S. soldiers brought up on charges related to My Lai, only Calley was convicted. However, his life sentence was later reduced to three and a half years under house arrest.

Never forget, my friends: This is what we're up against.

But let's also never forget the actions of a man named Hugh Thompson.

Hugh Clowers Thompson, Jr. wanted to fly choppers so badly that after a four-year stint in the Navy, he left his wife and two sons behind to re-up into the Army and train as a helicopter pilot. Thompson arrived in Vietnam on December 27, 1967, and quickly earned a reputation as "an exceptional pilot who took danger in his stride."

In their book, Four Hours at My Lai, Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim also describe Hugh Thompson as a "very moral man. He was absolutely strict about opening fire only on clearly defined targets."

On the morning of March 16, 1968, Thompson's sense of virtue would be put to the test.

Flying in his H-23 observation chopper, the 25-year-old Thompson used green smoke to mark wounded people on the ground in and around My Lai. Upon returning a short while later after refueling, he found that the wounded he saw earlier were now dead.

Thompson's gunner, Lawrence Colburn, averted his gaze from the gruesome sight.

After bringing the chopper down to a standstill hover, Thompson and his crew came upon a young woman they had previously marked with smoke. As they watched, a U.S. soldier, wearing captain's bars, "prodded her with his foot, and then killed her."

What Thompson didn't know was that by that point, Lt. Calley's Charlie Company had already slaughtered more than 560 Vietnamese—primarily women, children, infants, and elderly people. Many of the women had been gang-raped and mutilated.

All Thompson knew for sure was that the U.S. troops he saw pursuing civilians had to be stopped.

Bravely landing his helicopter between the charging GIs and the fleeing villagers, Thompson ordered Colburn to turn his machine gun on the American soldiers if they tried to shoot the unarmed men, women, and children.

Thompson then stepped out of the chopper into the combat zone and coaxed the frightened civilians from the bunker they were hiding in.

With tears streaming down his face, he evacuated them to safety on his H-23.

Never forget, my friends: This is how we can choose to live.

The post My Lai, "Killing Ideology," and Disobeying Orders first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Dissident Voice
18 Mar 2023 | 2:19 pm

10. Two Sessions Summary

This week's News on China in 2 minutes.

• Two Sessions Summary
• New National Data Office
• China's Historical Mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia
• Modern Feminism in China

The post Two Sessions Summary first appeared on Dissident Voice.
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