totalitarian cultures

Date: Tue Mar 23 2004 - 20:35:14 PST

I think that your reference to the issue of social referencing is
great, Bill. I think that the question may be reframed then as how a
developing fascist/totalitarian society distorts this basic feature of
human communication and its developmental path. Indeed, one of the
features of these societies is that we do not have an adult to rely on
but the Supreme Leader. Cases of kids denouncing their parents are
paradigmatic. Calls for a great family are usual as well. Masses are
joined in the devotion to one leader, who usurps the role of the main
caregivers. When and how the power of a totalitarian culture, such as
the Nazi culture, can destroy social referencing? What is the role of
cultural tools such as the media? I wonder which institution would
fund these days a study on the development of the totalitarian mind.


Quoting Bill Barowy <>:

> On Tuesday 23 March 2004 6:38 pm, wrote:
> > But, what about fascism, understood as a culture; that is, a set
> of
> > practices where mistrust of the other is the rule that regulates
> most
> > of the social exchanges? What about the culture of totalitarian
> > societies? What about the culture of the USA during Mcartism? We
> could
> > say that they lack "culture" but then the issue because just a
> nominal
> > one. I think they do, and that understanding how a
> fascist/totalitarian
> > culture develops is a worthy goal.
> I'm thinking about something really basic here. I think it is a
> plausible
> claim that the existence of culture, in the meaning we seem to be
> sharing,
> depends upon communication. Furthermore cryptography provides a
> unique
> situation in which we find that communication can not occur without
> some
> level of trust between the two people who wish to communicate with
> each
> other. Trusting is explicit in the process of enabling encrypted
> communication. The chain of dependency seems to be that culture
> depends upon
> communication which depends upon trust. At least this is so for
> secret
> communication among computer geeks.
> But what about good old face to face oral communication? That does
> not seem
> to require trust. Carol notes the Tswana and the apparent plethora
> of lying.
> And then David you note fascism, totalitarianism, etc. All these
> seem to be
> counter examples.
> My retort: communication requires a sharing of mind. The person
> communicating a thought provokes the same or a similar thought in the
> person
> listening, or reading, or watching. This, by definition, is
> secondary
> subjectivity. How do we learn how to do this? How is the
> transmission of
> culture dependant upon learning to communicate?
> Some people think that the beginning of secondary intersubjectivity
> is in
> social referencing. When an infant who is capable of social
> referencing
> encounters an ambiguous situation, (s)he will look toward the
> caregiver to
> see how the caregiver responds. This is more than a sharing of mind,
> however. The child *relies* upon the reaction of the adult to guide
> his/her
> reaction. In other words, and quite arguably, the child trusts the
> adult.
> The development of secondary intersubjectivity and social referencing
> seems
> to be universal, so this developmental path, and the reliance of
> culture upon
> trust in some deep causal way seems hold across cultures -- but I
> defer to
> the cultural developmentalists who know the research far better than
> I
> concerning this claim.
> I'm not sure where to take it from here. But I have some chsig
> duties which
> press and take precedence in the short term.
> bb
> >
> > Quoting Bill Barowy <>:
> > > On Tuesday 23 March 2004 4:54 pm, Sarah Woodward Beck wrote:
> > > > I also think that trust CAN be a part of culture.
> > >
> > > I'm glad you wrote the above, because I think I've come to
> conclude
> > > that
> > > culture cannot exist without trust. Mostly it is implicit and
> taken
> > > for
> > > granted. Trying to do cryptography brings out part of what is
> > > hidden.
> > > Studying child develolpment does too.
> > >
> > > bb

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