Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The psychology of appeasement

The neo-neocon (a family therapist) has an absolutely brilliant post (via Instapundit) on terrorists and our reaction to them, from a psychological standpoint.
I think that, in a similar way, most liberals and even some leftists like to believe that the world is a just and sane place, and that people are rational actors--particularly people in third-world countries (the actions of the "evil" US and Israel are often excluded from this benign formulation). If such people are out to get us, it's merely because we have done something to them that has made us deserve it. The reasoning is similar to that of the aforementioned abused child.
Anyone could be a target at any time. But if we say that they are only reacting to things that we ourselves are doing, things we could easily change if we wanted to, then the locus of control goes back to us, and the world is a far less scary and far more ordered place.
And it is precisely because this is an illusion that it makes this mental exercise so dangerous. Ironically, it would make the world a much less scary and more ordered place, if people recognized the fact that the world is more scary and less ordered than they want to believe (and as a result were willing to give blame where blame is due).

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