I was emailing with a reader, who has noticed the same things about Liberal debating tactics that I have. His perception was that every interaction must have a component which will shame the Liberal. It must have some aspect which the Liberal will not want anyone else to see. Of course the reason that such a component would be shameful, is due to the fact that if it became widely known, the Liberal would be out-grouped. It is the threat of being out-grouped which motivates the Liberal to abandon Liberalism. However, there may be more to it, and there may be subtleties that we may want to examine.
Of course, from an evolutionary, and r/K standpoint, shame will only carry Darwinian consequence in a K-selective environment. Only in such a resource-limited environment will one need to belong to a group. If conditions are r-selecting and resources are everywhere, then being ejected from a group will have less consequence on survival, and may even be advantageous, since you will no longer be sacrificing for the good of the group. Under r-selection, shamelessness may be highly adaptive, even as it will get you killed in a K-selective environment.
As the reader and I compared notes, and I reviewed his arguments and mine, one thing I noticed was the most effective shaming tactics may incorporate an opening with a subtle intimation that we are in a violent, K-selective environment. The opening may even personalize the threat this poses to the Liberal. This may be a necessary foundation which greatly enhances the effect of the subsequent out-grouping. If the Liberal has a slight frame in their head that they are threatened, and could get hurt, it may lead the Liberal to feel that they need a group to hide behind, if they are to survive. Because let’s face it, none of these characters would last a minute in a K-selective state of nature.
This introducing a threat frame prior to your argument may be important, given how we seem programmed to respond to these cues subconsciously. If threats are not everywhere, and violence is not seen as real, people may not be shamed as easily over their shameful behavior, since they may not care if they are part of a group or not. I think this is why a civilized, highly productive society will be afflicted with Liberalism to begin with. Under these conditions, being out-grouped may actually be advantageous evolutionarily, and they may embrace it. Just look at how shameless our society is today. I suspect if violence returns in the coming collapse, shame will as well.
This observation of the effectiveness of providing a threat frame, before making your case is supported by scientific research, as well.
Situational variables—including system threat and mortality salience… affect the degree to which an individual is drawn to liberal versus conservative leaders, parties, and opinions.
Much as the Great Depression precipitated rightward shifts in Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Japan, and other nations, heightened perceptions of uncertainty and threat in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, generally increased the appeal of conservative leaders and opinions
Since the publication of our meta-analysis, several additional studies have demonstrated that reminders of death and terrorism increase the attractiveness of conservative leaders and opinions.
Landau et al. (2004) demonstrated that subliminal and supraliminal 9/11 and death primes led college students (a relatively liberal population) to show increased support for President Bush and his counterterrorism policies and decreased support for the liberal challenger John Kerry. These effects were replicated by Cohen et al. (2005) immediately prior to the Bush–Kerry election in 2004. A Spanish study found that in the aftermath of the Madrid terrorist attacks of March 11, 2004, survey respondents scored higher on measures of authoritarianism and prejudice and were more likely to endorse conservative values and less likely to endorse liberal values, compared with baseline levels calculated prior to the attacks (Echebarria & Ferna´ndez, 2006).
An experimental study by Jost, Fitzsimons, and Kay (2004) demonstrated that priming people with images evoking death (e.g., images of a funeral hearse, a “Dead End” street sign, and a chalk outline of a human body) led liberals and moderates as well as conservatives to more strongly endorse politically conservative opinions on issues such as taxation, same-sex marriage, and stem cell research, compared with a standard control condition in which participants were primed with images evoking pain (e.g., a dentist’s chair, a bandaged arm, and a bee sting removal). This finding is particularly important because it demonstrates that death reminders increase support for conservative opinions as well as leaders and therefore rules out charismatic leadership as an alternative explanation for the results (see Cohen et al., 2005).
A recently conducted study of the political attitudes of World Trade Center survivors provides further support for the notion that threat precipitates “conservative shift” even among people who were not initially conservative (Bonanno & Jost, in press).
Thus, if presented fearful/threatening “mortal salience stimuli,” individuals reflexively became more Conservative on subsequent questionnaires, and they do so across all measures of Conservatism. Perhaps he was presenting what should be a foundational structure of an out-grouping attack, and noting an openness to Conservatism motivated by a reflexive desire to avoid out-grouping.
It is important to note, this isn’t a threatening presentation, which the Liberal could use to out-group you as violent and unstable. It is not telling the Liberal you are going to kill him. That only works if you are able to, and about to swiftly follow-up on it (in which case, the Liberal will immediately agree with you). Rather what I am describing here is merely a wholly unemotional aside, pointing out impartially, that the environment that everyone inhabits is violent and dangerous, and the Liberal may have to face that danger, like everyone else.
Of course, I immediately see Colonel Connell when he began his brilliant out-grouping attack on Mike Wallace by saying,
“Two days later they (the reporters – Jennings and Wallace) are both walking off my hilltop and they’re 200 yards away, and they get ambushed and they’re lying there wounded. And they’re going to expect I’m going to send Marines out there to get them.”
You can’t create a perception of a K-selective environment much better than by creating an image of dead and dying Liberals, strewn across a battlefield, desperately screaming and begging for their lives, like the pathetic pansies they are – their only chance for survival being the group of K-selected Warriors they have just pissed off.
This was doubly beautiful, since it combined this violent threat frame with a Diminution of Stature attack, portraying the Liberal to the crowd as weak, helpless, and pathetic.
Is the presentation of violent imagery a necessary foundational opening to an out-grouping attack? I think the science and evidence says it is, and we will explore its use further in future posts as we continue this journey.