Our political views are a reflection of our values, and to a greater extent–our personalities. In a political system as dysfunctionally ill as ours is, it is helpful to look at the source of the problems–and solutions–within ourselves, within our egos. After all, sociology is the study of a group of people whose beliefs, motivations and actions are best understood in the psychological realm. What do we want? What strategies do we employ to achieve our goals?
In this blog post, I would like to talk about the less understood way in which motivation is related to politics. We all know that it takes a large collective motivation measured by volunteers and volunteer hours, donors and donations, and voters to drive a political movement. Specifically, what motivates people to be directly involved in politics?
First, two definitions are needed:
Egoism (as far as the study of ethics is concerned) is the doctrine that self-interest is the motivation and proper goal of all human actions.
Egotism is a negative term that combines extreme self-preoccupation or conceit with a tendency to seek attention.
The philosophy of egoism is held by many, but not all, conservatives, libertarians, Randians, fascists, and other subcategories of right-wing politicos, but is also prevalent among opportunists across the political spectrum. The goal of the egoist is to win–by any means necessary. Compassion is insincere, cooperation and honesty is strategic.
If there is a conflict between what is best for an egoist politician and their constituents, the egoist will choose to lie, cheat or steal from their constituents, if they believe they can get away with it (our apathy often allows them to). Egoism has no home in those that serve, while others that wish to be served place their throne in its castle, and their defenses around its walls.
In its most extreme form, egoism manifests as the psychopathic or sociopathic personality. To elect a government with egoism as its core philosophy is to elect a political party with the same value system as a serial killer.
How can we elect people whose view of morality is that their own self interest is what makes something right or wrong, and expect that they will serve our interests, and not just their own? Rising to the top of a group of egoists is difficult, and the leader is generally competent, and we often prefer that to the common alternative–the egotist.
With egotists, everything is in terms of “I”. They would often rather sabotage someone with the same goals and be alone in the spotlight of heroic defeat than work together to solve a problem.
The left-wing is dominated by many egotists that need to justify, and cover-up, their selfishness by working for selfless causes. Unfortunately, even an incompetent egotist has some natural organizing talent, as the urge to constantly see themselves as important, leads them to surround themselves with people that agree with them, yet they are also the cause of the bitter infighting, with factions often being led by one egotist that feels threatened by another.
The insecurity of an egotist leads to compulsive neurotic behavior. The ego has egoism as its own philosophy, and the egotist will unknowingly adopt egoism whenever the ego is threatened, and nothing is more threatening to an egotist than another egotist.
Internal division is a major factor in how progressives lose elections to radical right-wing parties that espouse policies that are in direct opposition to the views and goals of the vast majority of voters.
Egoists and egotists are often the first to lecture people on morals, as it reaffirms their superiority to themselves and/or others. They are both hypocrites, liars, and manipulators by definition. Often people involved with politics are both egoists and egotists. These two groups of personalities dominate politics–especially political parties. Between right-wing egoism and left-wing egotism, little room is left for rational thought.
The average person wants nothing to do with these neurotic personalities or their organizations. The result is apathy, which concentrates more power with the egoists and egotists, leading to greater apathy.
The solution to this problem comes from the fact that both the egoist and egotist require delusion and dishonesty to retain power. More on that in Part 5: ” True” Solutions.
Catch Part 3: Democracy vs. Popularity tomorrow, for a look at how the “mob mentality” destroys our democracy, part of the What’s Wrong with Politics? series.