Monday, October 27, 2008

Hubris a cover for insecurity

Good op-ed by Gregory Rodriguez:

Americans like a little cockiness. We implicitly know that you've got to act like a winner to be a winner; you've got to fake it to make it. In our market-driven worldview, we tend to think that we're all pretty much worth what we say we're worth. Anyone who's ever been on a date or worked in retail knows that a little bravado can go a long way. I'm not talking about tacky post-touchdown victory dances, but more on the level of self-assured pride and confidence. Think Gary Cooper.

But we also know that excessive bragging can simply be a cover for deeper insecurities. How many times have you chalked up a colleague's arrogance to feelings of inferiority? We have names for people with too much pride: snobbish, pompous, stuck-up. And though it's their superiority that annoys us, we often suspect that these very people are overcompensating for their internal doubts and sense of inadequacy.

Right now we're assaulted with charges and countercharges about a certain kind of pride -- the red, white and blue nationalistic variety. Who and where are the most patriotic Americans, and how can you tell? To answer the question, it should help you to know that the categories of authentic and hubristic pride apply to groups as well as individuals.

Last Thursday at the annual meeting of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology in Sacramento, UC Davis psychologist Cynthia Pickett presented findings from a series of studies that couldn't have been released at a more appropriate moment. Not surprisingly, she and her co-investigators found that displays of hubristic group pride "might actually be a sign of group insecurity as opposed to a sign of strength."

Clearly, these studies shed some light on all the loose-lipped campaign rhetoric about who and what parts of the country are more patriotic than the rest. They suggest that not all pride is good, and they raise the question of whether hubristic pride is actually counterproductive. After all, if flag-waving braggadocio is no more than a mask for deep doubts about the viability of your "side," it just makes sense to put down Old Glory and stop shouting. That's the only way you're going to be able to engage in the hard work, sacrifice and practice you need for authentic achievement and authentic pride.

May the real patriots win.

Amen. Trouble is, the Repugs ain't interested in 'authentic achievement and authentic pride'. They're perfectly content to just graze on the radical right-wing horseshit they've been fed. Their favorite snack is about to be yanked away from 'em and they're pissed that their 'side' ain't gonna be in charge any longer. They're desperate and showing it.

It's going to make some of them lose what little grip they have and become dangerous too. Keep a tire thumper close at hand.

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