Sunday, August 25, 2013

NVC Niff Clotes:Chapter Ten: Expressing Anger Fully

Anger is a tragic expression of unmet needs. Our culture trains us to react to anger with blame, but this sends us in the wrong direction. Unless we express the underlying need, even violence expresses our anger superficially. NVC does not advise us to stifle our anger, but rather to express it fully in an effective way.
"The first step to fully expressing anger in NVC is to divorce the person from any responsibility for our anger." Actions of others never cause our anger, though they may act as a stimulus. Our culture teaches us that we can make someone feel something, but if we believe this, we have been tricked. Persons sometimes use guilt to control others. "The cause of anger lies in our thinking-in thoughts of blame and judgement." 
Instead we may succeed by shining "the light of consciousness on our own feelings and needs" and connecting "to the life that is within us." "When we are connected to our need," we "may have strong feelings, but we are never angry." Anger "is disconnected from needs." 
We also may "shine the light of consciousness on the other person's feelings and needs" in order to convert anger into more productive thoughts, behaviors and feelings.
"At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled. Thus anger can be valuable if we use it [...] to realize we have a need that isn't being met." "Anger [...] co-opts our energy by directing it toward punishing people rather than meeting our needs."
This is not intuitive, and also I have trouble identifying my needs under such circumstances. Is this the sort of thing that we could evaluate only by reading it, or do we need some empirical testing?  Or is it an advanced skill we can develop only after long practice? Or is it just BS?
"Violence comes from the belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment." Any "judgement of another person diminishes the likelihood of our needs being met." This seems plausible to me, but how would I know?
When we judge others, we put ourselves in an oppositional stance toward them, and when they feel defensive they are less likely to care about achieving win-win. We have started in win-lose mode, and each party will focus on winning rather than getting a positive outcome. We may succeed "in using such judgements to intimidate people into meeting our needs," but "we will pay for it later" in all likelihood. 
"Four steps to expressing Anger"
1) Breathe (slow down, deliberate).
2) "Identify our judgmental thoughts."
3) "Connect with our needs."
4) "Express our feelings and unmet needs."
This will work better if we empathize with the other person first. "The more we hear them, the more they will hear us." 
Blaming can cause someone to hate themselves, or to hate the blamer, but is unlikely in either case to change their behavior in a positive way.
All this is difficult and requires practice.
Many people react against this idea of avoiding judgement. It sounds like we should give a pass to violent and selfish persons. Rosenberg does not restrict this idea to particular circumstances, or illustrate extreme cases. He seems to make a general and universal case, without explaining how to replace our existing social institutions of punishment. Perhaps NVC can prevent some murders, but what sort of negotiation can we have in cases where murder was not prevented? If we take Rosenberg to the extreme, and eliminate all punishments and deterrents from our culture, what can we replace them with to achieve justice? If Rosenberg has an answer, he does not state it explicitly. I will duck the question by pointing out that this chapter is meant to address how I can deal with anger more effectively, not how members of society may choose to deter crime.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

NVC Niff Clotes: Chapter Nine: Connecting Compassionately With Ourselves

I delayed this chapter because I have trouble with it and I think it is important. I did a lot of hilighting in this chapter. I still have a way to go to fully integrate this knowledge.
In this chapter Rosenberg discusses self-compassion, how we can use NVC to improve the way we treat ourselves. Our culture promotes a style of self-evaluation that leads to blaming oneself rather than learning and growing as a result of mistakes. "Shame is a form of self-hatred, and actions taken in reaction to shame are not free and joyful acts." Why not shoot for freedom and joy instead? Rosenberg wants to show us how.
"Should" is a powerful negative word that denies the role of choice in our actions. When we don't allow ourselves to choose, we resist the demand we place on ourselves.  Demands take the joy out of our actions. Even if we do as we "should", the coercive aspect spoils it. 
"Self-judgements, like all judgements, are tragic expressions of unmet needs." If we can figure out the need we were pursuing, we can change the experience from shame and guilt to something more positive and learn from the experience. The regret we feel is NVC mourning. Once we recognize our need, we can pursue it more effectively, connect emphatically with ourselves, and forgive ourselves.
If we do something because we choose to do so to fulfill a need, we can adopt a more positive attitude and turn it into play.
Rosenberg describes an exercise. Write down things you feel you "must" do. Put "I choose to " in front and "because I want" at the end, and then fill in the because part (unless you decide you choose not to!).
Rosenberg lists some extrinsic motivators: money, approval, punishment, shame, guilt, duty. These are not needs. Is this really clear? I choose to do my taxes (currently) because I want to avoid punishment. I hate the process even more than I resent paying. I have long since become accustomed to the idea of paying tax, but I have never adjusted to trying to decipher the annoying instructions, or even the accountant's "simplification" of my part of the process. I'd be willing to pay a lot more if I could give to charity and skip the record keeping and form filing. They want me to calculate things I don't care about and remember stuff I'd rather forget. Maybe I should consider switching to an accountant who is more willing to help out. But I can't imagine turning it into play. Am I denying choice? I can fill out the forms, or I can risk jail, or ... What? Adjust my attitude? I could use it as an exercise for snarking at the IRS agents, but that is another good way to end up in Kafkaland. I think I just have a tragic need to avoid jail, and tax season will never "serve life" for me.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why Would a Cop Ever Ask Someone to Stop Videoing?

Cop wants to protect his own privacy.
Cop wants to protect the privacy of someone else.
Some aspect of an investigation must remain secret or it will fail. For instance, video of a meeting between a regular cop and and undercover cop or informant could endanger the undercover cop or informant. OTOH, maybe such meetings should not occur in public?
A reasonable cop would be willing to cite his reason and clarify whether this is a request or a command with legal backing.
Have I overlooked something? Please put it in the comments.

Baochan Daohu, the End of Chinese collective Farming

Anonymous farmers put an end to collective farming in China by means of quiet disobedience. The process was called baochan daohu, "return production to the household". The government initially resisted, then tried to guide, then tolerated this process. The following quote explaining baochan daohu comes from "China's Grassroots Movement Toward Greater Freedom" by Kate Zhou. She has written a book "How the Farmers Changed China" on the topic, giving details of what happened and the official government responses.

Grassroots De-collectivization Movement (Baochan Daohu)
The Chinese grassroots movement toward liberty started with baochan daohu, the practice of contracting production to the household. Haunted by memories of disastrous collectivization policies, which led to 10-40 million people dying during the Great Leap Famine of 1959-1961, Chinese farmers were eager to gain greater individual control over food production. The tragic deaths of so many people played an important role in the onset of liberalization, formed the backdrop for the success of rural de-collectivization, and set the stage for like-minded individuals to pursue common objectives without the need for leadership or ideology.
Mao Zedongs’s death in 1976 brought about change in China’s political climate and the government began experimenting with assigning land to small groups of households, allowing desperately poor farmers to break away from the inefficient communes. Even though the party leadership opposed assigning land to individual households, families determined to farm their own plot of land frequently bribed local officials, and the movement gained momentum, greatly increasing output and incomes. These gains were evident and the news traveled so rapidly that it was impossible to stop the proliferation of this new system to nearly all communes. Chinese people often say that baochan daohu spread like a chicken pest; when one family’s chicken catches the disease, the whole village catches it. When one village caught it, the whole county caught it.
Baochan daohu was in essence an unorganized grassroots phenomenon. Those involved were not leaders, and most remain unknown because they did not engage in face-to-face confrontation with the state. Simply wishing to be left alone, they acted against the socialist planned economic system. The aggregate result was the mechanism for a slow social and economic transformation of rural China, away from collectivism and toward free markets. By 1982, more than 90 percent of rural people were engaged in the household production system and by the end of 1983, most of the communes disappeared, which had major social, economic, and political significance for China. 

Language, Liberty, and Lakoff: Coercive Rhetoric vs. Transparent Rhetoric

I reviewed "Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff at 
Lakoff uses the idea of conceptual frames. Conceptual frames work at a preconscious level to assist thought. Lakoff's favorite example is the frame used by many republicans, the strict father frame. Lakoff thinks this is a master metaphor which drives the success of much of the republican idea agenda. Government is the strict father, who must punish the bad children. Good citizens are obedient and disciplined. Foreign policy is a game of tit-for-tat and winners need a big military and big police force to enforce discipline and punish the disobedient like a big tough daddy.
Lakoff wants democrats to fight back with a nurturing parent frame. Kids should share their toys, pay their taxes, support big social programs and international cooperation.
In my review I point out the limitations and inappropriateness of these as metaphors for government.
But is Lakoff correct in thinking these frames work in convincing people? If we believe that, what does that imply about the existing political process? Nothing good.
I want to know about frames for reasons of intellectual self-defense. What will political discourse look like if people begin to bring their conceptual frames to consciousness and debate those directly?
I feel like there are many other ideas that follow from this, but I am too distracted to distill them from the fermented mush this book made of my brain. If you have any ideas, please comment.

Will there be charity in Ancapistan?

Assume that the need for charity and people's attitudes about charity don't change, then there will be charity. Removing tax incentives will tend to reduce charitable giving, increased perception of need (replacement of "government charity") will tend to increase it.
Make optimistic assumptions about the economic results of privatizing everything, and need may greatly be reduced. Make pessimistic assumptions, and mutual aid remains, strengthened by the absence of government interference and crowding out.
The things that people, especially progressives, like about the government "taking care" of the poor:
* the government can force those other bad people to pay their "fair share" whether they like it or not.
* someone else's problem, I don't have to get my hands dirty but I don't have to feel guilty about it either.
* if people get to choose whether or not to contribute, there may not be enough money. Under the current system, if there's not enough money, I can blame those bad people who disagree with me politically.
How much money is wasted by political lobbying on each side of this issue? How much of this effort consists of the cheerleaders for each side goading their supporters into a group frenzy of team spirit, aimed more at perpetuating the process than accomplishing the goal?
I suspect that if this was done by rational people with serious goals, they would build in metrics to measure how successful government programs are and how cost-effective. They would encourage different experiments to gather knowledge and experience, allowing participants to give input into how they are helped and what they consider success. My (admittedly biased and non-expert) opinion is that the system is bureaucratic, monolithic, insensitive, and unaccountable.