Nov 9, 2007

Recognizing Group Threats

From the title it may seem that this post has very little to do with socionics, but it actually ties into the quadras and their roles in society. When we look at history, we can easily recognize periods where power was more or less centralized and when nations were in a state of alarm and readiness or in a state of ease and complacency. It seems that the presence of external threats slmost inevitably leads to a greater concentration of effort and power within countries, while the absence of clear threats generally leads to a decentralization and overall "relaxation" of society.

At the same time, there is also a tendency for centralized states to "create threats" in order to preserve the need for centralization of power. Decentralized states, in turn, downplay threats in order to preserve their comfortable, individualistic status quo. When the difference between the actual threat and the perceived threat reaches extreme levels, society becomes unstable and the whole government system can fall apart.

I believe that the ability to recognize threats to one's group is related to socionic type and to quadras. The greatest extremes in this regard seem to be the Beta and Delta quadras. Beta types are naturally attuned to the territorial expansion and contraction of systems (extraverted sensing blocked with introverted logic), while Delta types are attuned to recognize the traits and potential of individuals within the context of personal interaction and relationships (extraverted intuition blocked with introverted ethics ).

Beta types perceive people within the context of social groups and systems, the development of these systems over time, and feelings that are expressed between different groups. This doesn't mean that they are blind to individual traits or much more prone to stereotyping, but simply that they are more likely to talk about these aspects out loud, comfortably and naturally. Delta types perceive people as individual "case studies" who have different skill sets, relationship patterns, personality makeup, and daily habits. They are more likely to keep their thoughts about group patterns to themselves or state their observations very carefully and tactfully (which basically means restricting the use of these functions).

What this means in practice is that Beta types are much quicker to recognize and respond to threats to their group and to society at large, often banding together at the mere hint of such a threat. EIEs generate awareness of the threat within society and stir up people's emotions. SLEs mobilize people into bands to fight off attackers. IEIs and LSIs perform subtle, behind-the-scenes operations (of course, these are just broad generalizations). The "weakness" of the Beta quadra is that many Beta types are prone to see threats when there actually are none or exaggerate the danger of minor threats, thus wasting people's energy on fighting a nonexistent foe. When the danger is real, however, Beta quadra's ability to mobilize society is critical to the survival of society as a whole.

Delta's attitude towards threats is quite different. They are not good at operating in a state of fear and anxiety and try to find ways of avoiding whatever is causing these negative emotions. They prefer to make preparations in advance to reduce the likelihood of threats to an absolute minimum, because when a threat actually arises, they don't know how to mobilize for action. Because of Beta types' confidence in repelling threats, they seem less prone to lengthy advance preparations.

Examples
In my opinion, what we see across much of Europe now is a Delta stage of national ambivalence coupled with unforeseen material wealth. For decades now since WWII, European countries have been freely accepting immigrants, ignoring the cultural and now political threat that this has begun to pose. This attitude of acceptance and "extreme" rejection of anything that could be construed as racism is probably a reaction to the atrocities of WWII. Individual freedom and (probably) material prosperity are the result of this worldview, but it may be reaching its limits as threats to society grow and governments take few measures to counteract them.

Meanwhile, a Beta-dominant, xenophobic Russia is seeing threats all around them. What many people in the West don't recognize is that Russia is also experiencing a cultural revival. The benefit of being equipped to recognize and eliminate threats is, of course, a strong will to survive. The drawback is that if the threats are in fact too greatly exaggerated, maniacal leadership can lead to bloodshed and impoverishment.

The United States -- almost in the position of an island country (just two bordering countries) -- has historically flipped between isolationism and international involvement. During periods of isolationism, power tends to be more decentralized, and more energy is spent on perfecting domestic policies; during periods of international involvement, territorial interests are under threat and power becomes more centralized. Obviously, the U.S. is currently in a stage of involvement. This leads to a certain loss of freedoms within the country in order to better fight the country's enemies.

(I'll stop there for now)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. How do Alpha and Gamma quadras handle power and centralization/decentralization?

Rick said...

>>Interesting article. How do Alpha and Gamma quadras handle power and centralization/decentralization?

A logical question, of course, but I haven't been able to formulate the polarization between Alpha and Gamma sufficiently well yet. I'll be working on it.

raisonpure said...

"What this means in practice is that Beta types are much quicker to recognize and respond to threats to their group and to society at large, often banding together at the mere hint of such a threat. EIEs generate awareness of the threat within society and stir up people's emotions. SLEs mobilize people into bands to fight off attackers. IEIs and LSIs perform subtle, behind-the-scenes operations (of course, these are just broad generalizations). The "weakness" of the Beta quadra is that many Beta types are prone to see threats when there actually are none or exaggerate the danger of minor threats, thus wasting people's energy on fighting a nonexistent foe. When the danger is real, however, Beta quadra's ability to mobilize society is critical to the survival of society as a whole."

This is a wonderful description of the moment I anticipate and best realize myself in... It's like my destiny is to take charge and ensure the elimination of all dangers when others are floundering about -- namely Deltas who are woefully blind to dangers.

However, EIEs are not the only ones who can "generate awareness of the threat within society and stir up people's emotions"... Note this part of the IEI's Fe: "After catching the tendencies of occurrences IEI attempts, emotionally, to influence the surrounding people in order to push them towards the appropriate activity"

IEIs like myself can leap to the front and assume the role of the warner if no one else is there to do it. If there are no SLEs to support me, I can also take over the role of mobilizer, though it's more straining for me to make people follow my orders. As much as I'd appreciate someone who could do it better than me, one has to become Beta if there are no other Betas who are fighting on the same side.

Rick said...

I agree totally with what you say about IEIs.

Anonymous said...

Deltas are such enlightened beings. As a Beta, I passionately yearn to possess such rarified insight and sensitivity as to regard individuals as unique beings with distinct properties and attributes rather than as an intricate melange of stereotypes, but, alas, the elysian concoction of Te, Si, Ne, and Fi shall forever elude me. What hope is there? Will I ever transcend my biased limitations? Will I ever acquire such sapience and sagacity that members of Delta, that lofty apotheosis of quadras, are intrinsically endowed with?

Sincerely,
snodgrass (IEI)

Rick said...

And will Deltas ever rise above the banality of their everyday activities to recognize the supreme significance of things, without lowering everything to the material, the individual, or to primitive religious morality?:)

Anonymous said...

Let's not lose sight of how important material gain is to the SLE/IEI dyad... well, stereotypically. Never have I heard members of another quadra so vehemently tell me how infinitely important it is to have a big house and a nice car so that you can be proud of your societal status.

Rick said...

>> Let's not lose sight of how important material gain is to the SLE/IEI dyad... well, stereotypically.

To most SLEs yes. I would say that very many IEIs seem fairly indifferent to material wealth. Spiritual and artistics pursuits and a sense of internal freedom seem to be more important.