On Bullying And The Debate About Corporal Punishment In Schools

The recent launch of anti-bullying campaigns in Australian high schools has brought up public discussion on whether or not the use of corporal punishment should be re-implemented in Australian education.

This, as is par for the course in newspapers, is accompanied by a stew of other articles complaining about our youth in decline. Youth binge drinking and violence against teachers are other examples. The Myth of Cultural Degeneracy is unfortunately alive and well, in spite of the fact that there is simply no conclusive proof things are actually worse these days. Really, the news just can’t find something else to panic about so they manufacture another worry to make us watch news reports.

The stabbing of Elliott Fletcher, a 12 year old student at St. Patricks Catholic boy’s school, is an undeniable tragedy, but there is absolutely no reason to believe that it is somehow indicative of a systematic increase in bullying as a whole. Regardless, the incident did trigger Kevin Rudd to speak on the subject of bullying, and the federal Opposition to introduce an anti-bullying policy.

As a victim of extensive bullying, I followed the coverage on the anti-bullying campaign and felt rather depressed. Some commentators (the esteemed intellectuals featured in Letters To The Editor pages) evidently buy into the Myth of Cultural Degeneracy and assume that school bullying, youth binge drinking, and attacking teachers are interconnected phenomena occurring at unprecedentedly high rates.

And according to these most esteemed thinkers, who undoubtedly have seen much of the extensive academic literature on the psychology of bullying (I hope my utter sarcasm is blindingly obvious!), the solution to this modern pathology is simple; Bring Back The Cane! (Henceforth BBTC).

The appeal of this “solution” is obvious; it offers a quick fix.

But the simple fact of the matter is that bullying was rife at schools even when corporal punishment was allowed. But back then, things like “war with Hitler” and “impending Nuclear obliteration” were big problems that people focussed on. The news was too busy dealing with actual threats to western civilization, so school bullying did not make headlines. Indeed, it was treated as an inevitable and unavoidable practice, almost a prerequisite for growing up. It was an institution as much as corporal punishment was.

Now, since Climategate and Glaciergate mean that the media can’t make us panic over alleged Anthropogenic Climate Change, they’ve reverted to feeding the mass market with Plato’s old fear that the youth of today are corrupt. And certain individuals within this mass market have announced their [sarcasm]well reasoned, intelligent and examined[/sarcasm] solution to this corruption: BBTC!

This article will argue that a BBTC approach will not solve anything at all. It will also argue a conclusion I believe will be considered controversial; bullying is not so much endogenous to young people but at least in signficant part a product of the current education system.

To restate; bullying is (at least in significant part) a symptom of an underlying disease, caning is merely an attempt to treat the symptom. And more nefariously, it is the kind of “treatment” that is actually a consequence of the initial disease itself.

The first point that needs to be made is that school bullying today is no worse, indeed it is arguably slightly less awful, than it was in the past. Back in those days, when caning and calculatedly-sadistic forms of subjection were used, bullying was actually arguably worse. The unpleasantries of British boarding schools are well known and are the basis of movies such as “If…” The practice of “fagging” within these schools is well-documented. Indeed, there was a cultural expectation against complaining about bullying to school authorities and parents. This only made things worse.

If anything, it is the demise of this “don’t snitch” expectation that is responsible for making bullying more visible in culture. Now, people will bring grievances. This increases the chance that perpetrators will be penalized. Simple economics; raising the expected marginal cost will lessen amount produced.

So, in the days with caning, there was no less bullying, and there was arguably more. This alone is enough to discredit a BBTC approach.

At least some advocates of a BBTC approach apparently believe bullying is something “natural” to the child. Their view of the child is fundamentally Freudian; they are creatures of excessive “id” (or in Plato’s terms, “appetites”) and insufficient “superego” (or in Plato’s terms, “reason” (ahem)). The role of school discipline is to provide surrogate superego to counteract the excessive id.

This would have much more weight to it if bullying were confined to youth. It obviously isn’t. Militaries around the world are riddled with the practice, often referred to as “hazing” or “bastardization.”

One institutional context where there is relatively little bullying is university. People in university tend to be young; roughly the same age (or perhaps slightly below) as that of many people that first join the military. It is not fair to say that immature people join the military and mature people go on to university; such an argument would not only be hideously elitist but also plainly false.

Perhaps one possible explanation would be similarities between schools and militaries as institutions. Both institutions are heirarchial and collectivist. A pecking order exists where subordinates must comply with demands of superiors, and individuals are encouraged to identify with the group. Quoting Free-Market Anarchist E. S. Raymond’s essay “The Myth of Man The Killer” (2006), It takes training and intense re-socialization to make soldiers out of raw recruits. And it is a notable point, to which we shall return later, that said socialization has to concentrate on getting a trainee to obey orders and identify with the group.”

Schools are quite clearly the same kind of institution. Pecking orders exist where the students are subordinates of the teachers, are forced to comply with demands made by said teachers, and are encouraged to identify with the school. Or on sports days, identify with the team.

Within the student body, exactly the same kind of structure is replicated. Rosalind Wiseman’s “Queen Bees and Wannabes” is merely one testament amongst reams of books, news reports, movies and even video games that portray this reality. Heirarchies exist, those that defy them are punished with methods ranging from ostracism to beatings, and individuality is disregarded in favor of being assimilated into the pack.

Both the military and the school are heirarchial-collectivist institutions and both harbour bullying.

Universities might be full of people that advocate political collectivism (as well as a significant number that do not), but the character of the institution itself is much less authoritarian and collectivist than either the military or school. Individuals are given more-or-less free reign to come and go as they please and manage their lives according to their own preferences. A university is solely an educational institution, not a socialization institution like school or the military. Universities also contain significantly less bullying than either schools or militaries.

Yes, there are exceptions. Certain residential colleges and student societies (such as fraternities and sororities) often contain and/or practice bullying, some of which is part of the institution itself. But first, these are not the same institutions as university itself, and secondly, these institutions are often heirarchial and collectivist in themselves (although quite a few are not). One is encouraged to identify with the group and sacrifice one’s individuality.

In short, I wish to propose that institutions with heirarchial-collectivistic characteristics are more likely to contain bullying than institutions without these characteristics. I wish to propose the relationship is causative; immersing a human being in an institutional context with heirarchial-collectivistic characteristics is more likely to generate an individual that engages in bullying (which in turn makes other individuals around him more likely to receive bullying).

This requires me to deny the idea that bullying is somehow ‘endogenous’ to the child. Rather, the institutional forces surrounding the child have the potential to turn said child into a bully.

As stated before, the idea that children are wired to engage in bullying presumes a Freudian theory of the psyche; an overactive id and an underdeveloped superego. It also presumes a Hobbesian view of human nature, one where (quoting Raymond (2006)) “we are all somehow murderers at bottom,” where we will lash out at each other to satisfy any desire we feel at any moment, where (to paraphrase Ayn Rand) we are all murderous brutes that will trample over piles and piles of corpses to achieve our own ends, and that we are (quoting Raymond (2006)) “barely restrained from committing atrocities on each other by the constraints of ethics, religion, and the state.”

In short, the view is that human nature is monstrous and that children are “pure” human nature that must be socialized, or tamed, in order to not be a bully. Civilization, according to this mentality, is built on repressing our debased urges.

Needless to say, this view of humanity is frankly misanthropic and flies in the face of such classically liberal concepts as spontaneous order driven by rational self-interest. As a concept of human nature, it was also convincingly demolished by John Locke, who argued (contra Hobbes) that people are sane enough to realize that a war of all against all is in no one’s rational self-interest.

Naturally, the most reasonable argument against my position is that children do not know how to be rational. Strictly speaking, reasoning is a learned skill and humans have no abstract knowledge at birth (conceptually tabula rasa). But this position would imply school bullying is somehow a product of ignorance and devoid of malice; a position that is empirically known to be false. Bullies know what they’re doing, certainly by high school.

However, the fact remains that in spite of humanity’s lack of abstract knowledge upon birth, human beings do seem to have a general set of “drives” that are the result of evolutionary processes. These can be overridden by free will, but the clear fact is that they do exist. One is the “flight or fight” response, which is well-documented across multiple species. Another drive that seems to exist is a remnant from our days as hunter-gatherer tribespeople; “a predisposition to obey the tribe leader and other dominant males” (Raymond (2006)).

This sub-rational, animal drive towards pack heirarchialism is precisely what both military training and school socialization encourage. In the case of a military, this is, unfortunately, a necessity to at least some degree.

But to schoolchildren? I don’t doubt that having a heirarchial pack amenable to social control may be convenient for teachers, but one must look at the cost this form of literal dehumanization (or more correctly, devolution) has on the actual children.

If you divide children up into groups, encourage them to identify with the group (sports carnivals, for instance) and place them in an institutional context where heirarchial relationships are the norm, you have in effect turned them into a pack. Bullying; an activity by which pack heirarchies are established and maintained, is thus an utterly natural result of this.

An obvious challenge one may make is “if the institution is heirarchial, why do subordinates engage in bullying when their superiors clearly disapprove?” This is a legitimate point. However, you’d have to ask the same question of the military. Additionally, as stated before, the underlying pack-drives that are exploited upon to generate obedience create bullying; they come as a psychological package-deal. Look at Milgram’s Obedience Experiment; people will do terrible things on behalf of an authority figure. Finally, when an institution has already normalized heirarchial relationships, to expect people from refraining generating these kinds of relationships amongst themselves strikes as pure hypocrisy.

As one would probably notice by now, the writing style of this piece has changed. At the start it was one of my patronizingly-written mockings of the lowest common denominator from atop my Ivory Tower, and then it actually starting becoming serious. Needless to say I wish to avoid becoming overly academic since academic prose is not always successful. After all, my most successful piece so far was my Channelling-The-Ghost-Of-Ayn-Rand-Angry-Rant against Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen.

As such, I wish to offer the above theses for discussion. In addition, I wish to show my solidarity towards Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the creators of South Park) who recently had their network chicken out of showing the Islamic Prophet Mohammed. I wish to express this solidarity by suggesting blog readers to visit this post on Reason Magazine’s blog: http://reason.com/blog/2010/04/30/whats-a-black-metal-band-gotta

Yes. Anti-Islamic Black Metal. Note the distorted samples of squealing pigs at the end of the track. I thought that was a very appropriate touch.

Apologies for the last-minute change of subject. I happen to be posting this whilst sleep-deprived and under the influence of way too much Red Bull.

24 thoughts on “On Bullying And The Debate About Corporal Punishment In Schools

  1. I think your point about bullying offers an interesting and fresh perspective on an old problem. In terms of rambling off topic you could in future avoid this by writting two shorter articles.

  2. Terje,

    True. I was actually going to extrapolate this further, discussing the point about the authoritarian assumptions behind this attitude and how they’re so diametrically opposed to libertarianism, however I think these implications would be relatively obvious to people reading this blog.

    Additionally, Im sorry about the HTML Failure…. I wrote this in wordpad before copying it over… I don’t think WordPress likes me doing that for some reason.

    Otherwise, thanks very much. I’m glad you found the ideas worth entertaining.

  3. Interesting post. I note the authoritarian vs individualistic institutions bullying rates and must say that it squares with my experiences.

    And as an afficionado of black metal myself, I must say that Ayat are terrible!

  4. Chris,

    I am an electro-industrial fan rather than a black metal fan so I cannot claim to be an informed critic of the genre. I admit my affection for that track is more for the novelty (Islam bashing) and how utterly over the top it is (Christianity bashing is all well and good but its getting old and less shocking… and the bands that try to make it shocking again seem to be trying too hard)… the vocals are quite hysterical (although this is probably because I don’t understand a syllable of Arabic and thus all ranting in Arabic sounds like a crazed Mullah to me (ooh, a politically incorrect comment! So sue me)).

    Regardless I’m glad that you found my comments on the institutional-environmental characteristics of bullying to be true to your experience

  5. Using special lenses, I have started to analyze the first paragraph. This will take a while, so don’t stay up!

  6. Nuke,

    I’m sorry about the HTML failure. The WordPress software for some reason really hates me.

    In the future should I pre-write posts in notepad rather than wordpad?

  7. Write them in wordpad but then cut and paste to notepad and cut and paste again to wordpress.

  8. I’m reminded of a book I read at school called “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier. Nasty stuff.

    I also can’t see how the cane would help much. But I do think teacher’s have a bloody difficult job these days. eg/ How could a small, elderly teacher lay down the law with say a troubled 15 year old twice his size who hates being at school?! Over the last two years in SA there were apparently 3000 acts of violence against teachers. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/hatred-violence-in-our-schools-classrooms/story-e6frea83-1225834928483

    I do believe schools are full of bullies and kids being bullied. I think society at large is full of adults doing this too! I did want to say though that I’m not convinced the root cause is the institutional set up itself. (not that you were necessarily implying that this was the primary cause).

    I also wanted to make the comment that while we can observe the prevalence of flawed ideas across history such as scare mongering over a supposedly corrupt youth, I do think levels of “cultural degeneracy” are possibly quite variable. eg/ Some periods of history that I suspect had higher than normal levels cultural degeneracy were Germany’s Weimar Republic, Paris’ Montmartre district post WWI and the hippie movement in the mid to late 60s in the US.
    Of course, hedonism does go right back to the Greeks.

    I read Ayn Rand’s book “The New Left, the anti-industrial revolution” a couple of years back. She goes to town on the hippie movement. I really enjoyed how she identifies how these hippies were (contrary to their depiction in the media) basically conformists. They were simply practising and embracing the nihlistic and/or egalitarian ideologies pervading their culture and their progressive education system.

    Anyway, in summary I do think it’s quite possible hedonistic pursuits are on the rise. Although I was under the impression that statistically the young actually drink less than older generations did.

    Finally, glad to see there are some metal heads in the midst.

  9. Tim,

    Thanks for your reply. But I have a few questions I’d like you to ponder (I should add that these aren’t meant to be full-blown counter arguments. They are merely questions).

    First, why would hedonistic pursuits necessitate social breakdown? Assuming said hedonistic pursuits were conducted voluntarily, why would that cause society to collapse? Society is a pretty resilient ‘entity’… it isn’t some brittle, crystallic organization that only works when every molecule is aligned with the grand design.

    I agree with you that many of the Hippies were by no means actual individualists (even in a non-economic fashion), but we should remember that Ayn Rand did have an unfortunate tendency to make snap judgments, to be superficial and to rationalize her own aesthetic distastes (her inconsistent (and ultimately wrong) condemnations of homosexuality, for instance).

    I find an unfortunate number of libertarians have an uneasy relationship with cultural individualism. Residual conservative tendencies, one might say. Remember my old article on “punishment capitalism”? You will find quite a few libertarians are almost frightened of social “deviance” even if they will politically tolerate it.

    The hippie movement of course had problems and many members of it had bad ideological foundations. But there were benefits. 1950’s corporate America was a very insitutional, managed, “take one for the team” culture that had many resemblances to the Japanese business culture (and a corresponding lack of technological innovations). This kind of repressed, conformist society is NOT good in terms of market economics and I certainly would not want to have market economics even remotely associated with it.

    Yes, there were many bad ideas held by quite a few socially-deviant persons (who are not necessarily hippies) during the 60’s. But there are advantages to a situation where cultural norms get called into question, even if they are not called into question consistently or on the basis of reasonable premises. Primarily because a cultural norm that has some reasonable basis will be vindicated and those without will be tossed away.

    Again, I’m not giving full counterpoints with this reply. Merely posing questions.

  10. Hi Andrew, interesting.

    Firstly in my original comment I’m using two terms “cultural degeneracy” and “hedonism”. So this is confusing. Evaluations of “degeneracy” depend on the evaluator. What some people believe to be degeneracy isn’t degenerate at all. Homosexuality is a good example. What I am against is hedonism. So I’ll just focus on that term.

    I’d also like to make it clear that I certainly don’t believe in discipline or hardship for the sake of it like a Jesuit Monk. Actually for a long time I’ve thought that achieving long ranging happiness, pride, satisfaction etc is the meaning of life. But binge drinking won’t achieve this even though it’s pretty good at the time.
    NB/ I’m taking hedonism to mean choosing your actions based on the immediate pleasure they would give you.
    I think hedonism is clearly bad for you, especially if practised consistently. I’ve known some people that have practised it very consistently at times! I’ve been there too. Self destructive, and not happy.
    There’s two main problems I can see. 1) Hedonism is self destructive because it’s short range in focus, not long range. 2) Your emotions are an effect not a cause. A highly hedonistic person’s emotional state drives their actions but ultimately they won’t achieve the emotional fulfillment they’re craving because emotions are responses to one’s values/premises conscious or unconscious. And I don’t see how you could ultimately value say harming yourself with excessive drinking or alcoholism in the long term.

    At a society level, I also think a hedonistic culture is bad. An extreme illustration that comes to mind, is that Simpsons episode where they have “Do what you feel like day” where everything starts great and ends bad. From memory, the Big Wheel at the fair rolls away full of kids after the maintenance guy didn’t feel like oiling the moving parts.

    I agree about your comments of 1950s USA. And while I’m with Ayn Rand and think the hippie movement was in a philosophical sense ironically conformist and also way over-rated by the media, I think traditionalist or religious cultures also have deep flaws and destructive elements.
    It’s actually quite hard for me to imagine what life was like in the 50s. Just the other day I discovered comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested in Sydney 1962 for saying “Fuck” in the opening line of his show! Absolutely unbelievable. Homosexuality was of course illegal with very severe penalties. Actually for me, the movie “Kinsey” really drove home the picture of conservative US culture of the 1950s. It seems that many US citizens were totally shocked at the idea that extra marital affairs and homosexuality were prevalent in their society. We’re far less naive these days at least in that area.

    I agree with you that many Libertarians have “residual conservative tendancies” even if they recognise the importance of the separation of church and state and realise that a government shouldn’t be enforcing a moral code but rather should protect the conditions to practise one (being moral requires freedom). I also believe that arguments for capitalism from conservatives in the USA are ultimately counterproductive if they are based on traditionalism or Christian ethics.

    I don’t know if hedonism is on the rise, but if it is, that’s a bad thing. Rudd’s taxes will of course do nothing to address this problem. In fact, I’d expect hedonism to increase amongst a culture if taxes were significantly raised. Maybe all those drunk Russians or smoking Chinese are a good example.

  11. Great article. I get so sick of hearing how the youth of today are much worse than they were decades ago. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. To listen to older people talk today about how when they were young they respected police, how respect is breaking down, there’s no discipline blah, blah, blah.
    I hated all of this when I was young myself and I tire of it even more now that I’m 40.
    The BBTC mantra is nowhere near as infuriating as the one that pops up every now and then:
    Bring back national service…
    Yeah right. When there was compulsory military service there was still crime; there were still breakdowns;and your example of the military is an excellent one…compulsory military service would provide a look at another environment where there is no respect for difference, individual thought and confronting bullies.
    Once again, excellent article!

  12. Tim,

    OK, so you’re using the Objectivist definition of “Hedonism.” Thanks for the clarification, but I should say I am not using “hedonism” in that technical sense. I also don’t think that the presence of an open sex industry, drug industry or reasonably frequent use of alcohol implies hedonism in the sense you are using the terms.

    The Simpsons is hardly a good source for political philosophy… the show has a well-known Statist bias and “do what you feel like day” was an absolute parody. I admit, the consistent Objectivist definition of Hedonism does get that way, but most of what we Objectivists call “hedonism” is extraordinarily rare. I’ve never met someone I would consider an advocate or practicioner of the Objectivist definition of hedonism. Our definition of altruism is pretty severe, and I’ve met more practicioners/preachers of Comtean altruism than I have of hedonism.

    Going back to The Simpsons, it is a pretty low opinion of most people to assume their natural inclinations are towards complete incompetence. Then again, The Simpsons is full of “underestimates” of human beings generally. Homer Simpson is, after all, their version of “the everyman.”

    Regardless, I am not defending hedonism in the technical sense you are using that term in. I don’t think my article even mentioned the doctrine.


    Thank you very much for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed the article.

  13. Hi Andrew, I took my definition of Hedonism from Wikipedia and dictionary.com.

    Yeah I agree, you don’t get people who are totally consistently hedonistic in the technical sense – for long anyway. They’d die. Just like you don’t get people who are totally altruistic. They wouldn’t be able to do anything for themselves and would also die. But they are still valid concepts worth identifying even if virtually impossible to implement fully (and stay alive).

    I wasn’t disputing the point of this article but I thought it worth mentioning that it’s quite possible that a culture may trend towards or away from real corruption/degeneracy. ie: People may start focusing on the short term instead of the long term and people may become more emotionally driven.
    We may differ here because I do think people are generally too emotionally driven and too focused on the short term.

    There’s no force I can think of that would necessarily keep levels of “corruption of the youth” or “cultural degeneracy” at one set level throughout cultures, throughout time. I think this point is worth noting for further clarification because of the Jungian/Freudian type personality theories that are so popular. No doubt the research into personality types is useful but it doesn’t deal with the philosophical influences on human behaviour which in my opinion, many people just ignore.

    And I agree, the Simpson’s can be highly cynical of human nature sometimes.

  14. Tim,

    I do agree that most people are in general too emotionalist and short-term oriented, without question. But I don’t think one can argue that use of drugs, love of “socially unapproved” music, attendance of rock concerts, presence of a sex industry, presence of gambling, etc. etc. can be considered symptomatic of an underlying emotionalist/short-termist epistemic disease.

    I’m not accusing you of arguing any of that. I’m simply pointing out that you are using “degenerate” in a completely different way to how I am using the term. I’m using the term to refer to non-adherence to the moral standards of the traditionalists (i.e. the people that constantly complain how society is ‘degenerating’ and how the youth are ‘degenerate’ etc). Their narrative breaks down because defiance of their pathetic excuse for a morality has NOT caused social decay or collapse.

    Also, I will not defend Freud, but Jungian personality types (Myers-Briggs typology) actually has a lot of use. For one, it is essentially classification in terms of what Rand would call Psycho-Epistemology (or method of cognition). Thus, Myers-Briggs basically is classifying people according to the way they think, i.e. their epistemology.

    Doubt me? A recent survey at one of the Objectivist conferences showed that Objectivists are over 80% NT types (i.e. “Rationals”). The remaining 15% were about 12% NF types.

    In the general population, Rationals are about 5%.

    Additionally, you say that short-term emotionally-oriented people are very common. You’re correct. That personality type is the “SF” personality type (what we Objectivists would call a Concrete-Bound Emotionalist) and more than 40% of the US population fit into this category.

    So whilst I’m not going to defend Freud, I do believe Jungian personality typing does take into account some philosophical differences, albiet in a very abstract, high-level way.

    And I do agree philosophical convictions have a great influence on someone’s character. But I think Rand overstates their importance; at times she could descend into a form of nearly-Hegelian philosophical determinism (a trait which the ARI have unfortunately adopted). I for one am an Objectivist but I am also a Goth. Ayn Rand herself would probably (on a bad day) accuse me of having a bad sense of life. Yet I am still an Objectivist. I think the manner in which someone comes to their philosophical convictions is also an important element in personality.

  15. I don’t know about Meyers-Briggs, but i took an IQ test once, and the results were negative. And I don’t suffer from insanity either- I enjoy it!

  16. Hi Andrew,

    Well to be more accurate, I was subjected to the “Margerison-McCann” “Team Management Systems” which is heavily based on the Myers-Briggs as they proudly say. They try to modernize it a bit and only apply it to your personality in the work place, not your whole personality assuming there is a difference. I guess it was better than the NLP profiling we did and the many team building days that generally leave me feeling alienated and irritated.

    Anyway I got classed as introvert, creative, analytical, flexible. (as opposed to extrovert, practical, belief-based, structured). Seems pretty clear to me that the first three category pairs are exactly the same as the Myers-Briggs, just renamed. But I’m not really sure about converting to the Myers-Briggs terminology.
    Apparently this was a weird grouping, < 1% of population.

    However according to internet Myers-Briggs tests, I'm INTJ. the internet tests have more questions than the TMS system but being on the internet you have a slight doubt about their validity.

    I'm definitely a rational anyway, like over 80% of Objectivists.

  17. Hi Andrew,

    Well to be more accurate, I was subjected to the “Margerison-McCann” “Team Management Systems” which is heavily based on the Myers-Briggs as they proudly say. They try to modernize it a bit and only apply it to your personality in the work place, not your whole personality assuming there is a difference. I guess it was better than the NLP profiling we did and the many “yay team” “go team” workshops we do that generally leave me feeling alienated and irritated.

    Anyway I got classed as introvert, creative, analytical, flexible, as opposed to extrovert, practical, belief-based, structured. But I’m not really sure about converting to the Myers-Briggs terminology.
    Apparently this was a weird grouping, < 1% of population.

    However according to internet Myers-Briggs tests, I'm INTJ. the internet tests have more questions than the TMS thing but being on the internet you have a slight doubt about their validity.

    I'm definitely a rational anyway, like over 80% of Objectivists.

  18. Internet tests generally put me as ENTP. I think you might be onto something with the NT part.

  19. Shem,

    Thanks for replying. I find that libertarians/classical liberals are disproportionately NT types.

  20. Hey you pricks, stop picking on us ageing hippies. 🙂 Actually I was never part of the movement but lived the era and had some associations with some of them. Essentially you arse right, they were amazingly conformist. I was actually criticised by some for being non-conformist but in a jovial way.

    From my observations they tended to be in the main a fairly weak minded group who like most cultists were looking for something but expecting it to come from someone else. As such they tended to group themselves around manipulative people who served as ersatz gurus. Hippies tended therefore to be highly opinionated, but with other peoples opinions that they didn’t necessarily understand.

    I am about to wade through Atlas after a long hiatus from Rand, I tend to agree with her mostly but find her rather irritating and her characters annoyingly idealistic or in some cases just plain mad. Having said that I have to admit to having met many Elsworth Toohey personality types. My current boss is one, and while I wasn’t aware of the name at the time, those hippy gurus were definitely Elsworth clones.

  21. General comment: If it wasn’t for bullying, how would we get our leaders? Captains of Industry, Champions of Causes, Politicians and Popes, have all relied on their ability to get their own way by overcoming the resistance offered by lesser beings. My favourite is Howard, how he bullied his way to be leader of the Liberal party, then when in power, bullied the States to introduce his gun crushing program. Many in the Liberal Party still admire Howard’s “leadership skills”!

  22. Peter,

    I’m not sure if your comment was meant to be taken seriously per se (it sounds almost like reductio ad absurdum, i.e. “all these authoritarians are victims of bullying and human beings can only be led by bullies”).

    If bullies are required for leadership, maybe that’s an argument against leadership. And also, even if humans “need” politicians or popes, does that really justify the bullying of people?

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