Archive for the ‘Moral Psychology’ Category

Politeness as manipulative strategy

January 23, 2009

Polite people are not polite because they are polite, rather because they using others as means to their own ends. Politiness is a strategy of the weak to disarm the strong.

The fog of morality will not let people see beyond good and evil to the real motivators of human action. Morality encourages a blind eye.

Polar politeness – byline: Negative politeness disarms superiors, encouraging them to grant your requests.

Why we like ‘good people’

December 27, 2008

Simply, because we have power over them.

The good person has internalised society’s laws and customs to a neurotic degree. They are highly susceptible to social pressure and overly-concerned with what others think of them. They are weak and vulnerable. They use niceness as a defence mechanism. They are not skilled in the use of assertiveness to maintain their dignity, so seek pride in being ‘a nice person’. We feel safe around the good person because they have terrorised and repressed themself.

But within the good person we suspect ressentiment; repressed anger and resentment lie below the surface. They are harsh on themselves, but they are also judgemental of others. They only express their judgemental attitude when they feel safe, because they are too weak to express themselves in open aggression – that would make them feel ashamed, like they are committing an odious sin. However, we sense their judgemental view of the world in our attempts at casual conversation. The good person is nervous and it takes some time to get them to lower their guard (alcohol is a big help!). We sense the good person judging us, sometimes over the most light-hearted, trivial remarks. We are disappointed that the good person can’t simply be unself-conscious for a moment and let others of the hook of judgement also.

I know many good people and I wouldn’t want to be one for a second; what a terrible waste of life.

People are innocent

December 18, 2008

People are not basically good, nor basically bad. They are innocent; not due the judgement and condemnation we so readily heap on them.

Morality is a pragmatic social device that comes into existence through covenant. This device ought to only serve the ends of human survival and flourishing, but we frequently lend it too much power.

Morality has become its own end. Foolish people have been willing to annihilate each other for the sake of ‘right’. Total annihilation has even been a threat, during the Cold War.

Another corrupt morality is often used by the weak for their self-aggrandisement and self-righteousness. The weak employ this morality as a weapon against the strong, who are innocent of any real wrongdoing. Jealousy, envy and resentment motivates the bludgeoning of the innocent. The innocent are the strong, but to the weak they are the immoral.

The terror inspired by the ‘good person’

September 19, 2008

Some will say I am unfairly denigrating ‘good people’ with the following comments. Critics will say that good people are innocent, unaware and not responsible for possible negative effects they have on others; the good person has noble intentions and is just trying to behave in a proper manner.

It is certainly wrong to suggest that one person is ultimately responsible for the reactions that other people have to them. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own reactions. However, it is a fact that one person can influence others and that we all have the capacity for emotional abuse. Whether or not we fully realise it, our behaviour can be manipulative in a negative sense, even when he hold positive ideals in our head.

The good person can inspire terror* among others simply by way of being righteous. If the righteous person is self-conscious, shy, nervous or sensitive, the terror is magnified. We get edgy around do-gooders (interpret this term non-pejoratively) because we suspect that their righteousness is a result of strict, perhaps harsh judgements they have made of themselves in the past.  We fear that they will turn these judgements toward us, or that they already have, but will not express those judgements because that would break with the polite exterior.

What’s a good person, who is concerned about possible negative effects of their behaviour as described above, to do?

  • Follow the advice of JC, “do not judge…”
  • Put in extra effort to show that you accept others
  • Try not to take yourself too seriously, at least in the presence of others
  • Show people your lighter side (but don’t feel you have to be vulgar or lower your standards)

There’s the advice. Now, here’s the rub. I don’t think the good person is so innocent in regards to the terror they engender in others. The good person, perhaps not fully realising it, uses the terror described above to keep others ‘in line’ and at a distance. They terrorise with painful politeness. “Be cautiously nice and tip-toe around me, otherwise I’ll choose to get upset and you’ll feel like scum for upsetting me” — they emotionally blackmail others with their sensitivity and timidity. These are not inherent ‘personality attributes’ of the person, but deliberately chosen behaviours to deal with a world they perceive as threatening. They are largely effective. They are good at preventing potential bullies from getting close enough to the point where the person would have to stand up for themselves and say ‘fuck off’. However, these behaviours are deeply manipulative and anti-social, even if we fail to recognise them as such.

*apprehension is a more accurate term, but terror has rhetorical effect