Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rage WITH The Machine?

If you want to begin to come to grips with the Tea Bagger...I mean, Tea Party movement, here's a good place to start:

ONE CAN DEDUCE merely from the titles of' Ann Coulter s books (If Democrats HadAny Brains..., etc.) that diplomacy and shaded opinion are not her strong suits. Why is she so mad?

Maybe because she's a tail, leggy blonde. It's not the trod-upon who are easily-angered, according to recent research from UC Santa Barbara; it's the entitled, Aaron Sell and collaborators make a case for anger as an evolved bargaining tactic. Huffiness promises either the infliction of harm or the withholding of goods. When you don't get a "fair" shake, you flare your nostrils and your adversary recalculates. And the more bargaining power you have—the size of your stick or your carrot—the better treatment you feel you deserve.

In Sell's new studies, men's strength (big stick) and women's self-rated beauty (tasty carrot) both correlate with sense of entitlement, proneness to anger, belief in the effectiveness of personal aggression, and a history of getting one's way. The theory stands up.

If Coulter feels entitled, it could also animate her jingoism; jocks and beauty queens in the studies also supported political aggression. Sell suspects these alphas' pro-war stances are an evolutionary echo of strong men expecting to go to battle themselves (and win), and fair maidens expecting to claim an unfair lot of the spoils. "Political attitudes," he points out, "don't stem from reason,"

A compelling argument, to be sure, made by Matthew Huston, of Psychology Today in the current issue.

Anecdotally, it seems to bear weight, as well. The right wingers I've encountered, the really angry, nasty ones, tend to be people who have already got some (the usual way of phrasing this is "I got mine, Jack!"). Or as the poet put it, when you ain't got nothing, you ain't got nothing to lose.
There's a fear underlying this, as well. When you feel you deserve a fair shake and get angry when things don't seem to be going your way, that's about loss. If not a material loss, then one of self-esteem and prestige. Those who have get more easily, mostly because they have already and other people feed into that.
Anyway, something to think about when going up against someone like this.