A research from the University of Virginia in the United States arrived to, as the very scientists called it, a shocking insight: people don’t feel good in their heads. More specifically, they don’t want to think!
Yes, exactly, people don’t like to think. The research, as science.org writes, showed that 67% of male respondents and 25% of female respondents chose a mild electric shock over thinking.
As many as 50% of participants in the experiment stated that they did not feel comfortable with their thoughts. They were placed in a half-empty room where they were told to think on any topic(!) 6 to 15 minutes. They simply would do anything, even hurt themselves, just not think. So, even though previously they had stated they would give money just not to get an electric shock, they, not having what to do with themselves, still touched the device with which they received an electric shock. Just so they are not alone with their thoughts. Truly incredible!
Women think more and better than men, but that is why they are not on candidate lists
From this experiment that included several hundred volunteers, many interesting conclusions and directions of thinking can be drawn. Let’s say, the discrepancy between how many men and how many women would choose pain over thinking is quite interesting.
It has been stated many times that women are the ones that use their head more often, more and better than men. Here, many of those reading these lines will think of the frequently used expression that refers to the ironic view about “with which head do mean think”.
Long ago (1998), in the political magazine “Forum”, I wrote an essay about the superiority of women compared to men. The scientific experiment can complement that thesis.
Women think more, have the power to concentrate on multiple things at the same time, and their thoughts are far-reaching and deep.
Is that why they are not in politics? In candidate lists in election processes in North Macedonia, they are never even close to the representation that is at least nearly fair, which is a legal obligation. In the 2021 local elections, the number of candidates for mayors and council members is disgracefully low. They are set in such a way that there is no chance for them to come to a function. And for those who are favourites, the black rightist propaganda has made effort to disparage them to unbearable limits.
Are authoritarian leaders popular because people do not want to think?
It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that it is the most appropriate comparison, but this scientific research inspired me to focus my thoughts (without electric shocks) on – politics. It’s worth to also take a look at the reasons why people don’t want to think. More specifically, why they let someone else think for them.
Or, to define the topic even more precisely – why authoritarian leaders manage to win the sympathy of a large number of voters? Is it because they don’t want to think? It seems that despots are voted on by people who don’t feel comfortable in their heads (to paraphrase the research above).
“Strong hand” regimes are ever more popular, shows research. How come?
One of the most frequent answers is that dictators instil trust among citizens, make their lives certain, and some of them manage to improve the economy with rapid growth and stability. But is this really so?
Vulgarities and tricks, manipulations with people’s feelings
Authoritarian regimes the least of all bring certainty. They corrupt the system, capture the state, subordinate economic resources to their interests (steal). To control the money (to steal them), authoritarian regimes also control the media, courts, police and academy. Everything they do is a delusion, only their immeasurable enrichment is real.
They smother or corrupt every source of independent ideas and civic power, so that no one dares to threaten their rule. Society is kept in constant shock and fear of the enemies – it’s safe only with the leader, only he can provide safety, security and well-being. In exchange for obedience.
Everything has to be under control, and anyone who tries to contradict – will be publically crucified and persecuted. Authoritarian regimes instil fear and divisions. If there are no enemies (and usually they don’t exist), they make them up or create them. Populism, fear and fraud are the arsenal of these political musters. It has always been like this. And most of them end ingloriously.
Therefore, if we want to give a simple answer (although it’s not easy) about their popularity and success, it probably lies in the fact that they come to power, and hence also stay there, by means of down-to-earth vulgarities, with tricks and manipulations. They first evoke and stir feelings of fear, divisions, hatred and/or uncertainty, and then promise they will remove these (made-up) reasons for them.
Bag full of fake promises
In the bag with promises from dictators, there are countless “guarantees” that they will defend their own (but only their own) voters from all enemies and traitors and that they will restore the pride and dignity of the nation. One of their strongest weapons is the false morale and religiosity or ideological dogmas.
They are societies in which gay communities are hated and persecuted, women are oppressed, people with disabilities are despised. Any minority is “an internal enemy”.
And certainly, there are variations in all of this, by hiding or placing marionettes from those communities, to hide the real nature of the authoritarian rule. A lesbian for prime minister, for instance.
Steals, but also builds
Though seemingly they bring some kind of economic stability and growth, in essence, they deplete economic resources and create clients from a large number of people, mostly in the administration and in part of the businesses over which they have influence, and even many personal interests and “deals”. In conjunction with the tireless propaganda in the controlled media and with the repressive apparatus, the situation of “people’s satisfaction and trust” can last a long time.
It’s not very difficult to notice that people want to live under the slavery of authoritarian regimes. In time, people start to realise that the “ruler” of their lives and of the state is, actually, an immoral monster who steals for himself and for the elite. Still, a good part of the citizens, who in the meanwhile have turned into “people” (mass), have found an excuse for the silence:
“He steals, but also builds”, “we are poor, but at least we are proud”, “at least women are in their place, in the kitchen and in the maternity wards”, he put the enemies in a corner (minorities of any category)” …
They all work for the Boss
Where an authoritarian regime rules, crime becomes a big and organized operation of controlling and taking hold of public money. There are no independent institutions, hence there is no one to initiate an investigation, nor to object. Stealing is a privilege of the ruling elite. All others just need to work for the Boss, like him and not think with their own head.
When such anti-democratic structures are in opposition, they gain popularity because their promises are related to the negative emotions in people, and not to reason. Hence, the circle is closed.
Thinking is a luxury that can cause trouble. Therefore, it’s best not to think. Those who think with their own head and use logic, face more risks.
If they think, they could face the need to change something in their lives or in their environment. That’s difficult. Uncertainty and doubt are not pleasant feelings. A large part of the bipedal creatures endowed with the gift of speaking and thinking, choose to use only the “apparatus” for speaking, without interventions of the centers in the brain that form logic and thoughts in people.
People are not used to think with their own head
From an early age, parents, relatives and the neighbourhood, religious communities, and even the whole system, direct people to follow orders and rules without objection and without thinking. For a long time, this has not been the case in (a small) part of the modern world.
How much will it help us, after who knows how many times, if we see that the tragedy of this, and not only this society, is in that a good part of people don’t want to think with their own head? Probably very little or not at all. Those who need to endure a little longer in their heads, have long ago given in to the false comfort of stupidity.
Re-examining, accepting or rejecting views and values of each individual are part of social processes and change. The more the members of a social community participate in the daily building of political culture independently and freely, the more one can expect that society will be characterized by vitality, dynamism, resilience and freedom. That’s how society changes, with people who are free and actively participating in its shaping.
But as things stand today, it’s an impossible mission. For a great(er) part of people it’s easier to follow orders and blindly obey authorities. Especially when those orders and impositions are wrapped in messages similar to religious dogmas and where there is confrontation with fabricated or real threats.
Indeed, it’s hard to expect this when people are put in a situation of spending their lives in choosing between one more loaf of bread or turning on the heater to heat their little room. It’s hard because the predatory tradesmen with souls are lurking at every step, to steal their consciousness and to instil needs in them for what they, the tradesmen, have to offer them: obedience, hatred against those who are different, fear from the “unknown”, fear from God, reverence for the church or mosque, fear from the boss, from a screw in the municipality, worshipping party leaders…
And hence, people have the least bit of fear of COVID-19, because God is with them. They have no traffic culture, because that’s not important. They have no self-respect, because cash, God, the Party and the Boss are most important, and not they themselves.
Translation: N. Cvetkovska