Saturday, January 24, 2009

Politics Under Conformity

One phenomenon that is interesting is the changing of behavior in mutually conformist systems or, more commonly, the resistance to such change.

The effect of mutual conformity in a group is to produce an averaging effect in which everybody is attracted toward the centroid. If there is someone with a noticeably different style of behavior, they are pulled toward the centroid by the aggregated force of the number of conformists. While the centroid will also be attracted toward the outsider, the force will be small and the inertia high.

If the outsider is an ideologue, he or she will be fixed in that position in P-space no matter how strong the conformist force. This will mean that there is a small resultant force on the centroid that acts to move the centroid toward the ideologue. Even a small force, if maintained, will eventually result in the centroid being synchronized with the ideological position. Examples of this happening include military training and other examples of brainwashing. Mao Tse Tung sent pairs of ideologues as cadre to conformist villages. Castro used television speeches to become the ideologue in everyone's family.

If the ideological cadre does not have the authority to keep the conformist group open the group has the defense of shunning. If the ideologue is labeled as "not one of us" he or she does not contribute to the net mutual conformity and there is no effect on the group. This trick has been used effectively by the Amish.

In developed industrial societies special groups may maintain a mutually conformist style, but it will usually act like the Amish, with a unique religion and, very often, a special uniform. That may well have more of the characteristics of an ideological cult rather than a mutually conformist group.

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