Posts Tagged ‘soft power’

Hatred of softly influential groups

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Wherever a group has disproportionate economic or cultural success that does not rest upon political power, does not involve the ability to kill people and break things, does not depend upon hard power, for example Jews, Americans, Indonesian Chinese, Indian Fijians, Indians in Africa, the Ibo in Africa, the same hatred occurs, the same accusations, the same fantasies, the same excessive and disproportionate attention, the same concoction of utterly trivial grievances into supposedly enormous crimes – even if the disproportionately successful group and the less successful group have no previous history, but only encountered each other fairly recently. I observe that we also get such interesting phenomena as self hating members of the successful group – the psychopathologies so characteristic of Jews are also characteristic of other disproportionately successful and correspondingly hated groups.

This phenomenon is the inverse of Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome is that we are apt to love those who control us by fear and murder. Hatred of softly influential minorities, such as anti Americanism and hatred of overseas Chinese in various third world countries, is that we are apt to hate those whose intellectual creativity entertains or inspires us.

Amy Chua, author of the book “World on Fire”, which examines the problem of softly influential groups, under the demonizing and politically correct name “Dominant Minorities”, is a pretty good example of a self hating Filipino Chinese. It would seem that the Chinese sinned by being industrious and successful, and therefore the system that allowed them to succeed is supposedly to blame for bringing repression upon them in the Philippines, and massacre upon them in Indonesia.

There are a great many diverse newly affluent ethnic groups, among them the overseas Chinese of various Asian countries. An ethnic group succeeds, perhaps because of genetic superiority, perhaps because of a culture that encourages education, thrift and hard work, and so people hate that ethnic group – hate Amy’s ethnic group among others. Her analysis of the problem is absolutely accurate and spot on, though of course her implied solution – a political elite that imposes equality on all the non elite – has failed disastrously. She sees, and explains in detail, that her ethnic group is in the same hole as the Jews, and as a great many other similar groups, correctly analyzing the problem that afflicts overseas Chinese and Jews and many other groups as a single problem with many groups and many examples. The flaw in her analysis is the self hating and politically correct phrase “dominant minority”.

The groups she is talking about are not dominant, rather they possess soft power. If Americans wandered around shooting people to force obedience, everyone would love them, but Americans are hated because they persuade people to drink coca cola and watch terminator movies.

Similarly Hitler, a failed artist, was primarily enraged by the influence of Jewish plays and art. When people complain that America rules the world, they really complaining that they watch American movies, and thus people are playing attention to Americans instead of themselves.

The correct description of the problem is “non coercive influence”, and “softly influential group” Non coercive influence, soft power, is what a softly influential group possesses, and it makes that group hated. Dominant minorities are often loved, and are never hated. The problem, rather is hatred of softly influential groups.

I observe that since the surge, since Americans flattened half of Fallujah, we have at last seen large numbers of Arabs clerics, all of them Iraqis, most of them not very far from Fallujah, preaching genuinely moderate Islam, and large numbers of Arab intellectuals, a great many of them Iraqis, arguing for moderate and realistic behavior by Arabs and Arab countries, accurately perceiving the faults of Islam and the Arabs. The American attempts to directly build a state were all miserable failures, and continue to be so, but when the Americans showed persistence in slaying their enemies, there was considerably greater willingness to examine American ideas and beliefs honestly and thoughtfully. Arab intellectuals and clerics changed their position, and we now increasingly hear from Arabs that Arabs have problems because their society has something wrong with it, not because the outsiders are holding them down. Seeing that Americans would fight and not yield made in much easier for Arabs to understand and agree with the Americans, though I think Americans could have made the same point at considerably less cost to themselves.

The critical variable is hard power, and hard power is the costs you can inflict on others. If a softly influential minority exercises sufficient hard power – that is to say, hurts enough people and destroys enough wealth, or demonstrates willingness and ability to do so – irrational hostility diminishes among those people who are potentially vulnerable to being hurt, and the softly influential group becomes able to make its case intellectually, able to win hearts and minds through persuasion and good deeds. The good deeds are only appreciated from people who can and do also do bad deeds.

Not only is the group less hated, but it less apt to hate themselves. Not so very long ago Americans were having orgasms of guilt because a guard at Gitmo tortured a poor helpless terrorist by pissing a short distance upwind of a Koran. Today Americans have flattened half of Fallujah and no one gets indignant.

When Americans knocked down a few dozen houses in Fallujah and killed a few people, there was a big outcry about the Fallujah massacre, just as there was about the Jenin massacre when Jews knocked down a few houses and killed a few people.

But when Americans came back a couple of years later and proceed the flatten half of Fallujah and kill a great big pile of people, not only are Fallujans fine with that, but more importantly, Americans are fine with that. If you google, you will still get five times more hits on Jenin massacre than on Fallujah massacre, and most, probably all of the hits for Fallujah massacre are for much smaller events from long ago where Americans were doing very little damage to people or property. When Americans rolled their sleeves up and really started killing people and breaking things in vast numbers, then there was no more talk of “Fallujah massacre” – not from Arabs, not from Europeans, and not from Americans.

The solution to the problem that Amy so accurately describes is the Fallujah solution, the opposite of the solution she inaccurately prescribes. The answer to irrational hatred is to hurt people and break things. Since the hatred is irrational, crazy, and self destructive, a sufficiently hurtful and destructive response to hatred snaps people out of their madness, and creates an environment where communication and good deeds can work, as is happening in Fallujah and Anbar province.

Of course, that strategy can also lead to holy war, if people incorrectly evaluate other people’s legitimate grievances as irrational, crazy, and self destructive, but what we are seeing in Iraq is the quenching of holy war, with, to my great surprise, a massive outbreak of moderate Islam, We are not seeing any signs of a functional democracy or national unity, which was supposed to be the mechanism that would supposedly produce moderate Islam, but we are seeing moderate Islam despite, or perhaps because of, the severe disfunction of the institutions that were supposed to encourage it.

How much hard power is required? Small doses are counter productive, merely giving people superficially rational excuses for their irrational hatred. Gitmo produced the insane hysteria about torturing a prisoner by pissing upwind of a Koran, making the problem worse, not better. The Fallujah sized dose, however, has had dramatic good effects in Fallujah and noticeable good effect in America, winning the hearts and minds not only of Fallujans, but of Americans.