Why is this subject, “Addictive Ideologies,” important in the world?
Extremism in all forms is on the rise around the world. In the United States, political divisions have reached an all-time high, which is threatening democracy itself. Identity politics, tribalism, the Alt-Right, Woke Culture, and other cultural and political divisions and extremism are challenging democratic values and the long-term prosperity of the American people. In other parts of the world, we’re seeing more and more right-wing extremism, anti-semitism, and other divisions taking hold of people’s minds and societies. As extremism grows, security, cooperation, and overall satisfaction diminish.
What is the pressing issue right and how are you addressing it?
The divisions in America are directly tied to the perspective we have of our future. If we believe that our lives are getting worse, resources will be scarce, and our future is out of our control. We will become more tribal, and be more unwilling to compromise politically, and many of us will look for the oppressors to place our blame. This formula in history has produced disastrous effects.
The extremes of the U.S. on the left and right are espousing ideologies that separate us by race, religion, politics, gender, and more. The voices on the extreme left and right are amplified beyond their true numbers by partisan primaries through low-turnout elections, gerrymandered districts, social media, and the news media. This creates at least an illusion of a darker future, and it drives increased participation in tribalism.
Political and educational reforms are necessary as part of the solution. However, finding agency is the role we as individuals can play in preventing this. The agency is the belief that our behaviors determine our future, that resources are abundant, and our future is hopeful. Our book helps individuals understand how they can regain this agency, and why it’s so important.
Dr. Emily Bashah and Paul Johnson’s Biography
What is your background in this subject?
Addictive Ideologies: Finding Meaning and Agency When Politics Fail You, merges insights from two widely disparate worldviews. Dr. Emily Bashah is a licensed psychologist who does forensic work and evaluations on a variety of clients including terrorists and those charged with capital crimes. On a personal level, Dr. Bashah’s Jewish family escaped persecution by the Ba’ath party in Iraq tortured, confiscated property, and murdered members of her family.
The Honorable Paul E. Johnson was mayor of the city of Phoenix, ran several presidential campaigns, and is active in political reforms designed to reduce the influence of extremes in the political system. Johnson’s experiences working with diverse groups, racial issues, mass shootings, police shootings, and his work on political reforms to reduce the role of extremes in the political process give him a unique perspective on what is happening politically in the United States and around the world.
In Addictive Ideologies Dr. Bashah and Hon. Paul Johnson leverages their unique psychological and political backgrounds to show that genocide isn’t the result of just a few bad men, and tyranny isn’t only caused by one charismatic leader. Both require hundreds of thousands of people to ignore reality, rationalism, and decency, who are willing to participate.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Dr. Emily Bashah and the Hon. Paul Johnson is their life partner and they’re raising their two-year-old daughter.
What are your passions outside of your career?
Politics, human behavior, social norms and mores, family, and the outdoors
Are there any social causes that you believe in and support?
We have been very active in political reforms, including the national independent movement, as well as trying to change the election system to reduce the influence of extremism through partisan primaries and gerrymandered districts. We have a podcast called The Optimistic American, which we use to promote agency and optimism. And we have a very large list of people we have mentored in business and politics.
What is next for you?
We have a podcast, the second book is being published, called In Defense of America, and we plan through our voluntary efforts to continue to try to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of the issue of agency
Tell me about your book.
Today’s world of runaway identity politics, nationalism and cancel culture is setting the stage for the loss of a cohesive message in America. The loss of individual agency and liberty keenly shows why we can’t take democracy and civility for granted. In Addictive Ideologies: Finding Meaning and Agency When Politics Fail You Dr. Emily Bashah, a clinical psychologist, and Hon. Paul Johnson, entrepreneur and former mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, offers a word of caution.
The book looks at genocide, terrorism, and political extremism and asks the question: how can seemingly normal people participate in horrific events? How can they turn on people that they know, their family, and their neighbors in the pursuit of some ideological dream?
The thesis of the book is 1) genocides, terrorism, and extremism are almost always linked to an ideology; 2) Those ideologies that turn violent almost always separate people by groups and view the world as the oppressed versus the oppressors; 3) As individuals get involved in such ideologies, they become ostracized from their family and friends, either by choice or aside from their choice leading people to associate only with individuals who are also driven by ideologies. 4) This takes on the traits of an addiction, where the addict continues to do something that harms themselves and people they care about yet they cannot stop.
Among the major causes of these attractions to ideology are the loss of status or economic position, fear-driven by apocalyptic-type information, and ideology becoming a substitute for intellect, allowing the subject to appear informed and giving the hormonal high that comes from winning arguments.
The solution to this includes political reform and educational reform. But the focus of this book is on the role that we play as individuals. The agency is key to solving the problem.
Political Speak: How Conservative vs. Liberal Podcasters Draw In Their Audiences(Opens in a new browser tab)
Where can people buy the book?
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/addictive-ideologies-dr-emily-bashah/1142837139
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