Truth vs Fiction
In politics, ideology and partisanship are highly correlated and only becoming more so over time. This is coming to bear in the US election, where an incumbent that has overseen thousands of unnecessary deaths at the hands of a global pandemic, almost 100 times the amount that died as a result of 9/11, is still favoured by broad swathes of the population. How can you reconcile right wing politics to reality? More importantly, is reality a construct that you have some control over? As an entrepreneur, how can you shape a narrative that reflects an emerging reality you’re exploiting?
RWA vs SDO
Those who hold the perception of power become the arbiter or truth. Instead of viewing the political paradigm through a one-dimensional continuum with liberals on the left and conservatives on the right as is traditionally thought, a two-pronged approach could be more accurate. One axis reflecting the Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and another reflecting Social Dominance Orientation (SDO).
RWA measures authoritarian attitudes, similar to the traditional paradigm familiar to most. It is associated with religiosity and valuing order, structure, conformity, and tradition. Whereas SDO is strongly associated with valuing power, achievement, and hedonism.
Borrowing a model from Duckitt and Sibley (2009), both roads lead to Rome but the path taken to get there is slightly different, those that identify on the SDO continuum typically believe that they need to be associated with the dominant group to win. This means that there are people that identify as conservatives that would likely be willing to shift their support, if they viewed that the other group was stronger (and welcoming). Those that associate with the RWA world view are harder to win over as the world is always dangerous and there is nothing more dangerous than change. There has been hints from the democratic campaign that they understand this as they begin to focus more on reuniting the American Family, however this hasn’t been capitalized on. Increasing divisiveness and posturing by the in-crowd plays well to both paths that lead to the political right. It’s important to note here that it is not in the incumbent’s interest to unite but to divide, as division increases perceived social threats while at the same time expresses dominance over the “out-group”.
Create Your Own Reality
The important takeaway, beyond the political strategy, is that you are able to change the perspective of others if you can understand the paradigm that they use to view the world. As Douglas Abrams stated:
“Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you”
If you repeat something enough and firmly believe it yourself, it starts to become a reality for those around you. This has been referred to as the “reality distortion field” that people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk create around themselves. Their beliefs create their reality.
This was brought home the other day when a video of Venus Williams being interviewed by ABC news in 1995 popped up into my feed. She states that she “Can beat her” and that she’s “very confident” the interviewer continues to drill her on where her confidence comes from. Her father interrupts,
“You’ve got to understand that you’re dealing with an image of a 14-year-old child and this child gonna be out there playing when your old ass and me gonna be in the grave. When she say something, we done told you what’s happening. You’re dealing with a little black kid, and let her be a kid. She done answered it with a lot of confidence. Leave that alone.”
Richard Williams knew about the importance of self-belief and the ability to create your own reality. His daughter was vulnerable, there was every chance that people were going to tell her that she wasn’t enough and would never be enough. This happens to a lot of people, which create their own self-belief system and accordingly their own reality. It’s hard to argue with when you consider that his daughters have 73 and 49 titles (Serena).
The Big Lie
Big lie was a German propaganda technique coined by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf. He used lies that were so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the imprudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Here is how the United States Office of Strategic Services described his tactics:
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
Sound familiar? The repetition of an untruth creates the Illusion effect, where people believe it to be true after repeated exposure regardless of the facts.
This is why when you’re building a company or society, it’s important to have simple messages that people understand, which are repeated frequently.
Those who hold the perception of power become the arbiter or truth.
The inverse is also true, be aware of any messages that you’re being given without supporting facts. Don’t let other people undermine your effort, when you put yourself in the arena you might not have a Richard Williams standing up for you so you will have to stand up for yourself. Be mindful of any social constructs that erect themselves around you. The will colour your world view. If you can create the perception of power, you can create a reality for those that will listen.
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