Influencing the Mind
How are those divisions created and how is the wedge driven between different social groups that leads to a polarity od opinions and those inflated feelings of superiority? The process is indeed complex and applies to human behavior, social functioning, aggression, indifference and lessened feelings of empathy. That knowledge has been used with much success during wars and to instigate conflicts and pitting one group against another, where the factors of race, clan, wealth and land distribution also being taken into consideration.
Another point is the language, used as the weapon that possesses some long range explosive power. By labeling others we assume control and the feeling of otherness, dehumanising our opponents by portraying them as weaklings with no sense of honor or devoid of any intelligence or emotions. That has been seen in examples of tortures on some war prisoners, where ’us’, representing the western world and ‘them’, the prisoners of war. Obviously things are much more intense and trauma inducing for any soldiers fighting the war, with the element of psychological triumph and revenge, tightly related to the ongoing conflict and strong beliefs about those the supporters of people hitting back at the soldiers’ mates back in the war arena.
Also experiments involving volunteers with prisoners and prison guards provide enough evidence that people under pressure and in extreme conditions are prone to buy into the roles, despite knowing that it is a part of the program of some sorts.
Propaganda is a powerful tool of helping desensitize us against the enemy as well as boost the morale, so it is a double edged sword. Caricatures underlying people’s facial looks and comparisons to some widely despised animals also bring about that effect of ’us’ being more human than ‘them’. Whilst on the battlefield, when the trigger must be finally pressed, the more people are shot dead, the better, experiments clearly show that the shows inciting hatred or perpetuated myths relating bloody stories of alleged brutalities do nothing except arise certain negative feelings in the targeted groups. The stronger the language of hatred the more response there is, among those who perceived the injustice and cause an uproar and demanding strong action. The power of the language in the use of propaganda is clearly seen in political campaigns and any conflicts where both sides are competing for some cause. The language serves well to divide nations and social groups alike, including the poor and the rich and men vs women. In some cultures women are treated as cattle which probably also shows in the local language, and it is a belief deeply ingrained in and supported by the long standing traditions, sometimes driven by the issues like poverty.
How to persuade a prisoner of the mighty power of the system they were brought up to hate? By introducing eg. the need to write about its positive aspects, via some subtle brainwashing. Instead of physical terror, psychological methods seem more pervasive and effective in a longer run. That explains why some prisoners pitted against one another had no difficulty reporting another with enough information received. Here it was also the way of the metod with a carrot instead of a stick used.