[Marxism] [Ecosocialist] Mass psychology explanations of global warming denial

Kamran Nayeri kamran.nayeri at gmail.com
Sun Mar 18 11:01:00 MDT 2012


Thanks Hans; good food for thought. The issue of why people's consciousness
lags reality is a key question and one that is not satisfactorily
resolved--at least in the sense of giving us a way to overcome it sooner
than later.

On historical materialism: why do you believe that people live in "society"
because they need products? People lived for 95% of our history as
gatherer-hunters where there was no product as such.  Perhaps it is more
accurate to say people live in class societies because of products. And
historical materialism is formulated to analysis class societies.

Best,

Kamran

On Sat, Mar 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM, <ehrbar at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu>wrote:

> **
>
>
>
> timgli sent the following URL to the ecosocialism list,
> but I am sending my reply also to the marxism list:
>
>
> http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/08/1072330/-Mass-psychology-explanations-of-global-warming-denial
>
> This blog seems ignorant of an extensive literature about
> the sociology of emotions which is very relevant here. The
> article which was for me personally the most concise and
> striking introduction into this literature is the book
> chapter "Self-Processes and Emotional Experiences", by
> Morris Rosenberg, pages 123-142 in the book _The
> Self-Society Dynamic: Cognition, Emotion, and Action_,
> edited by Judith Howard and Peter Callero, Cambridge
> University Press 1991.
>
> A more recent collection about these issues is the book
> _Theorizing Emotions: Sociological Explorations and
> Applications_, edited by D. Hopkins, J. Kleres, H. Flam, and
> H. Kuzmics, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt and New York, 2009.
> Look especially at the contribution by Helena Flam, "Extreme
> Feelings and Feelings at Extremes."
>
> None of these articles speak about climate change denial in
> particular, for this you should read the monograph _Living
> in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life_, by
> Kari Marie Norgaard, MIT Press 2011,
> http://www.amazon.com/Living-Denial-Climate-Emotions-Everyday/dp/0262515857
>
> It is amazing that capitalism, the home of alienation, has
> developed such deep knowledge about emotions. I think the
> original impulse for this research was to better manipulate
> people through advertising, and the system-transcending
> potential of this knowledge is an unexpected byproduct of
> this research.
>
> But this is definitely valid and useful knowledge, and if we
> want to soften up the public's climate change denial in
> order to promote a mass movement which is rational and not
> driven by panic and not derailed by all the other unresolved
> resentments of capitalism, we need to be familiar with this
> literature.
>
> These are not explicitly Marxist theories, but I think the
> theory of emotions as social glue can be and needs to be
> integrated with historical materialism. I am thinking of it
> this way: historical materialism explains why individuals
> *must* live in society, and the sociology of emotions
> explains how people *can* live in society.
>
> (a) Individuals must live in societies because they need
> products to survive, and products can only be produced in
> society.
>
> (b) Individuals can only then live in society if they keep
> their raw emotions in check. This requires self-deception
> and the ability to keep unpleasant emotions at bay.
>
> In the view of Siegmund Freud, denial was always bad and had
> to be overcome. By contrast, modern sociologists have known
> for some time that a moderate amount of self-deception is
> normally a good thing. But in the present truly dangerous
> situation, denial has become suicidal, and creative ways are
> needed to break out of this denial without giving up the
> civilized ways of living with each other which are
> facilitated by this denial.
>
> Hans G Ehrbar
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