October 07, 2005
Osuji Lectures #3: Nigeria's Political Socialization
by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- CULTURE: Yesterday, we talked about political culture. Today, we shall talk about political socialization. The two, culture and socialization tend to go together and, indeed, in some textbooks are often treated as one subject. Human beings are socialized to their groups’ cultures.
Socialization is the purview of several disciplines including psychology, sociology, psychoanalysis and political psychology. Every human group has a culture, an accepted pattern of behaviors that they have found useful in their efforts to adapt to their world and try to give those patterns of behaviors to their children.
Culture is neither good nor bad but is that which enables a group to survive the challenges of their world. It is time tested mechanisms for coping with the exigencies thrown up by a particular environment.
One culture is not better than another for what enables one people to survive in one environment may not enable another to survive elsewhere.
This is a critical point and needs stressing. What, for example, enables those living in the cold sub artic world may not enable those living in the hot tropical world to adapt to their world. The behavior patterns developed by Europeans in their efforts to adapt to their world may not be adaptive to what the tropical environment requires. Consider: it takes clothing to adapt to the cold north. Without wearing clothes human beings would simply die off in Scandinavia. Furthermore, it takes well insulated housing to survive in the cold north. In the tropics neither clothing nor brick castles are required to adapt to the hot environment. As a matter of fact, it would seem inappropriate to wear three piece suits in Nigeria and or to live in brick houses.
When people from Europe came into contact with people in Africa, in the tropics, what struck them was how scantily dressed Africans were and how they lived in grass huts. They extrapolated from this observation and concluded that Africans were primitive. To them, Africans lacked ability to develop science and technology. The Europeans fancied themselves smarter than Africans because they were clothed in elaborate attire and lived in castles.
Now if we approached the situation with our thinking hats on, we would reach different conclusions. It is adaptive to hot climates for people to be semi nude and for them to live in grass houses. It is not rational to wear elaborate clothing in the tropics or to live in Versailles like palaces in the tropics. As a matter of fact, it seems down right foolish to do in Africa what is adaptive in Europe.
Please notice that during the summer months in Europe, that folks go practically nude. The beaches of Spain and Portugal witness less clothed persons than the Massai and other seeming nude Africans.
If Europeans had lived in Africa, they would have had exactly the same culture that Africans have, including being scantily clothed and live in grass houses. By the same token, if Africans had lived in Europe they would have developed the same culture Europeans have. Actually Africans already lived in Europe and developed the culture Europeans have. Europeans, as well as all human beings are Africans; they are emigrated from Africa.
The environment determines how people adapt to it. Culture is that which adapts to the realities of the environment and not an abstract phenomenon. You do what your world asks of you to do to survive in it, not what you think that you should do, but what you have to do.
Every culture adapts to the realities of its physical and social environment. It is because cultures are mechanisms that adapted to the realities of specific environments that we cannot judge one culture as better, as or worse than other cultures. We have to study each culture on its own terms and, in so far that we are to judge it, evaluate to what extent it enables its people to adapt to their world.
This realization of the specificity of culture, in academia, gave rise to the idea of multi-culturalism. We now know that all cultures are adaptations to specific worlds and are not good or bad and ought to be studied on their own terms.
Human beings come from diverse cultural backgrounds. To understand why they do what they do you have to understand the cultures that they come from. You have to study each and every human group’s culture to understand why its members do what they do. You cannot expect persons from one culture to behave like persons from other cultures. In fact, it is silly to expect a person from cold Alaska to behave in the same manner as a person from Mediterranean California.
As in most things human beings do, however, there is always a danger of taking good things to the absurd. The idea of cultural relativism can be so carried to its logical conclusion that we rationalize foolishness. Consider. In some cultures there was really little or no respect for women. Women were second class citizens. Women were to be seen and not heard from. In India, girls were married off as young as age twelve; indeed, when a man died it was often expected for his widow to be burned in her husband’s funeral pyre. This was Hindu culture. If the idea of cultural relativism is carried to its logical conclusion, it follows that Indians ought to be marrying off their ten year old girls to 60 year old pedophiles from Arabia (it was recently reported in the press that rich Arab men came to India to find young brides) and burning their widows?
Culture is not a static phenomenon. Culture is always dynamic and is always changing. Groups of human beings are always finding better ways of adapting to their environments. What was considered adaptive yesterday could be improved today.
Culture change is generally accelerated when different cultures come together. When different cultures meet, they learn from each other how each does the same thing and both diffuse to one another and learn.
In fact, those groups of human beings that were cut off from interaction with other groups tended to remain stagnant relative to those groups that came into contact with different groups and learned from them. Progressive groups are generally those groups that are frequently coming into contact with other groups, learning from them and making changes. Trading people are generally more progressive people for they are in touch with different groups and learn from them and improve on their own cultures.
Cosmopolitan groups as the Jews are who they are because they are literally everywhere in the world and learning from every group.
Isolated groups, those cut off from the larger world, tend to be characterized by the presence of yesterday’s science and technology.
Within Africa, those groups that eschew commingling with the outside world, such as the Pygmies of the Ituru forest of the Congo, the Massai of Kenya, the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, the Dinka of Sudan etc tend to retain their cultures but are generally living in a world that others consider appropriate in the twenty first century. They live in the past, not the present world. Like the dodo bird that did not adapt to its changed environments, these African groups are probably headed towards extinction. At present, they are museum pieces for Western anthropologists to study and understand how human beings everywhere lived ten thousand years ago (not how they live today).
African groups that embraced cultural dynamism, even though they came into contact with Europeans in less than a hundred years ago, are now found all over the world. The Igbos came into active contact with Europeans around the beginning of the twentieth century and are today found in the best universities of the world. This is because of their acceptance of change as a necessity. You do not sit around trying to maintain your past; you let your past go and accept the present and future. Nostalgia for the past is a waste of time for the past is gone forever. The present is all there is, the future is a hope.
Human beings are cultural animals. They have no choice to be cultural or not, they have to be; they have to figure out ways to adapt to their world and pass those ways to their children. Every human group passes to their children what they believe would enable them adapt to their world. The means of passing culture from one generation to another is called socialization.
Those children who are properly raised internalizes their group’s culture and behave accordingly. Normal adults are normal to the extent that they have incorporated the norms of their group and exhibit them in their behaviors.
Norms are accepted patterns of behavior. Behavior is normal because the group approves it as such. Behavior is abnormal because a group of human beings say that it is so. Generally, human groups judge behavior that enables them to survive as normal and those that lead to their demise as abnormal. Normalcy or deviancy is a social construct; it is a society that defines what is normal and what is not.
Heterosexuality enables people to procreate children, replace themselves and survive. Homosexuality does not lead to procreation and, in fact, it leads to contracting all sorts of viral and bacterial diseases. Thus, in most human societies, homosexuality is defined as defiant sexual behaviors.
(Today, radical feminists are bent on deconstructing extant culture because men constructed it, patriarchy, and these radical deconstructionists want every thing done by men to go; they want to reconstruct society in women’s image. They want to impose their death courting behaviors on society. They want to do it through political correctness, through censoring speech that does not agree with their views of reality. These nihilists now have the right to define the abnormal as normal; they normalize deviancy and, indeed, make normalcy deviancy. Generally, these groups are oppositional defiant with high dose of antisocial traits. Without modern medicine homosexuals would self destroy; it is medications that kill the germs that they contract every time they engage in their unhygienic sexual behaviors. Just about every lesbian has Herpes of the mouth. Gay men are filled with innumerable diseases the least of which is HIV. These behaviors are a product of godlessness and reflect existential depression. These people are on a fast track to self destruction and like all sadists would like to drag the rest of society with them)
Every human group socializes its young into internalizing its culture. It hopes that if it succeeds that its offspring would do what enables it to survive. If a group’s norms are maladaptive to the requirements of the present environment and it socializes its children to interiorize that culture, and they do so and exhibit it in their behaviors, they would die off. Consider alcoholics. If they habituate their children with alcoholism, the children become both physiologically and psychologically addicted to alcohol at a very early age. Such children destroy their bodies with alcohol and die young. American Indians are essentially self destroying through this means. The reservations are cesspools of alcoholism where twelve year old children are already drunks.
Whereas, in the main, culture enables a people to survive, dysfunctional and pathological cultures hasten people’s death.
Every year, some human groups die off. Currently there are many endangered groups in Africa. If history remains constant, in five hundred years, some of these groups would have become extinct. They would die off because of their inability to do what adapts to the changing environment we all live on. Unless, of course, we help these people to become realistic and embrace change, they might become dinosaurs. Dinkas, Massai, Twa, and Bushmen seem on a fast track to extinction.
(Many American Indian tribes die out every year; at the rate they are disappearing, it is doubtful that they would be around in the next few hundred years. What is left of them would disappear into other people’s gene pools.)
Children are very vulnerable. Children under age 12 would literally die if adults do not take care of them.
Children know that they rely on adults to survive. Therefore, children strive to please their parents and guardians and do what they are told to do. Except with the exception of a few oppositional defiant and or conduct disordered children (the five percent of the population that go on to become criminals and fill our jails and prisons), most children learn what their significant others ask them to learn.
As Sigmund Freud and his Psychoanalysts see it, the normal child, by age six, has begun developing what they call the superego. The superego is the repository of social values, beliefs and norms. The normal child internalizes his society’s dos and don’ts and that becomes his superego, his conscience telling him to do certain things and not others; indeed, punishing him when he does not behave as his society approves. (The normal child, person feels guilty, remorse, if he does not behave as his group asks him to behave; the anti social child does not feel guilt upon doping bad things; in fact, beginning in childhood he seems to enjoy doing bad things; hurting other people apparently satisfies his sadistic trait.)
As Freud sees it, we are born with what he calls ID, raw instincts to do as we like. Freud believes that we have instinct to seek food, sex (pleasure) and aggression. The average male would like to have sex with all the women around him. But society tells him to restrict his sexual behavior to one woman. He feels frustrated but nevertheless must abide by social rules or he is punished.
Freud believes that another part of the psyche, the EGO balances the drives of the ID and the punitive SUPEREGO. Thus, in our heads are id, ego and superego. These three forces are said to be at war in our psyche, thinking, and minds.
The normal person balances them; the neurotic tends to have over blown superego, to the extent that he is paralyzed by guilt feeling from the smallest wrong doing, he even feels guilty for being alive, the neurotic is the over socialized child.
On the other hand, is the child who is under socialized; he has raw id and a weak superego. This is the child most likely to steal. He is generally from chaotic families, from dysfunctional families, from poor families, from the ghettos, from backgrounds where no body supervises him and he grows up feeling that every behavior is permissible. He engages in antisocial behaviors, is arrested and locked up at Juvenile detention centers, usually at around age fourteen. Thereafter, his life is in and out of jails.
Sociologists emphasize the social forces that enhance learning or deter it. For example, children from middle class homes tend to learn appropriate behaviors, whereas children from poor homes seldom do so. Sociologists look at the economic and social forces responsible for this differential learning.
Developmental psychologists, those psychologists who specialize in child development, tell us that the first six years of a child’s life is the most critical. If a child has not learned appropriate social behaviors by age twelve, they tell us that it is often too late to help him. Personality, the individual’s habitual pattern of responding to his environment, is formed by age twelve. People are generally at age 70 who they were at age 13, the onset of adolescence. It takes trauma to the brain and or conversion to religion for people to really change their personalities.
Aware that we need to work hard to socialize children before it is too late, most human societies try their best to get their children to internalize their norms. Most societies know that if there is a failure in getting a child to be normal by age twelve that it may be too late to rectify the situation. Very few persons bother trying to change adults.
All human beings intervene to help children learn appropriate behaviors, for they know that they are still amenable to change but ignore adults, for they know that it is too late to try changing adults. (If you see a ten year old boy drinking beer you want to stop him from doing so; but if you see a forty year old man drinking, you say, oh well, he has a right to destroy his liver and brains with alcohol and leave him alone.)
The normal human being internalizes his group’s norms and his group’s culture. He behaves appropriately; what is appropriate is defined by the group. (The oppositional defiant child, who is in a power struggle with society, immediately asks you: “who defines what’s appropriate and who gave him the right to do so?” He defies what any one tells him is appropriate. The antisocial child goes further than the ODD child and shows his defiance of social rules by stealing what society asks him not to steal. )
THE AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION
The agents of socialization are families, peer groups, schools, churches, work places and associations the individual voluntarily join.
Every human child is born by a woman and is (usually) raised in families. Each family is a social unit and socializes children to behave in a certain manner. Children are positively reinforced, rewarded when they behave as their parents asked them to. Reward could be simply being hugged, praised, given something etc. A child is rewarded when he does as asked and punished when he does not. Punishment could mean being ignored, whipped, told to go take a time out, go to ones room, not getting the toy one wants etc.
The family’s system of rewards and punishments generally suffices to produce a normal child. However, underlying it all is love. If a child is loved he would do anything to please the parents, he would do what they ask him to do. But if a child feels not loved by his parents he would refuse to do what they ask him to do. In families where love is lacking antisocial children are often produced.
The peer group is the second most important socialization agent. Human beings, beginning in childhood, want to be liked and accepted by their peer groups. A child would emotionally shrivel up if his cohorts reject him. In fact, teenagers would do any thing to get their peers to accept them. Even saying that one does not care whether others like one or not is really the desperate effort of a person who feels rejected to tell himself that he does not care; it is like a scared child whistling in the dark, pretending to be bold.
Children crave other children’s approval. If the peer group is reasonably law and order oriented and approve appropriate behaviors in its members, this helps a child to learn appropriate behaviors. Boy’s scouts and similar groups are positive social groups.
Unfortunate children who were raised in crime infested neighborhoods are early in life exposed to antisocial behaviors. They see youth gangs roaming around instead of being at school or reading their books; they see these street toughs as powerful young persons, as role models to be admired and want to be like them. They join them and those become their surrogate families and socialize them into criminal activities.
Gang members approve the child when he steals, curse people and generally uses bad language. They tell them that it is being tough to use four letter worlds. In fact some of these children have so limited a vocabulary that all they know are the curse words that they spill out. The child exposed to this tragedy does as other children do: imitate his peers, except that what he is imitating to get his peers attention might lead him to trouble. Sadly, some of his peers might be the first to end his life, put a bullet in his head.
Next to peer groups are schools in socializing children. In just about everywhere in the world, it is now mandatory for all children to be at school from age six onwards. Those from good families are seldom out of school until their mid twenties when they obtain terminal professional degrees (PhD, MD, JD, and MBA). It seems that childhood is now prolonged and extended to age 28, when the professional to be is usually done with formal education (informal education continues for life).
Schools teach the three Rs, as well as appropriate social behaviors. Schools teach acceptance of the group’s political culture.
In America, for example, by the time a child is done with high school he has literally been programmed to go out there and kill for America. America’s schools are nothing but boot camps for indoctrinating children to serve the empire. Very little learning is actually taking place in these schools.
Every society attempts to get its children to accept its political culture. You are taught about the political system and told what your civic duties are. In Britain, you are taught to respect the Queen and other aristocrats, to keep quiet when your superiors talk etc. In Japan, you are taught to respect your family and when called upon, to die for the emperor and nation. In Nigeria, you are left to fend for yourself; you quickly learn that nobody cares for you and do not care for any one else but yourself. Nigerians indifference to their children is mind bugling. How exactly do they expect their children to work for the good of the nation, do they care? What we have here is really foolishness. You have to care for your young if you want them to support the polity.
Churches teach particular approaches to phenomena. Christians teach about Jesus Christ and see him as their conduit to God. Muslims teach about Mohammed and see him as the seal of the prophets. Hindus teach about Krishna and see him as God incarnated in human form, the ideal human being. Buddhists teach about the Buddha and the need to transcend ones ego. There are all kinds of religions out there. They are all instruments of socialization; they civilize human beings.
A human being who does not belong to a religion is often the most dangerous human being on earth. Socialists, communists and atheists who believe that there is no God easily steal and kill and rationalize their behavior. As Dostoyevsky observed in his novel, Brothers Karamazov, if there is no God, no absolute morality, all behaviors are permissible.
Adult conservative thinkers know that if there were no religions that we would have to invent one. Machiavelli is right in saying that if there is no God we have to invent one and socialize the masses into believing in him. It is the fear of God’s punishment that keeps the masses in line, obeying the laws of the land.
It is irrelevant to argue whether God is a social construct and our projection. We do not know for sure that God does not, in fact, exist. What we do know for fact is that man is capable of heinous crimes and that we must seek every means possible to civilize him and make him respect the lives of other people.
The work place is a means of socialization. To get and retain a job you must constantly please your bosses and coworkers. If your behavior is inappropriate you are fired. If you are sacked, you do not have money to buy the necessities of living. To be able to meet your material needs you need a job and to have a job you strive to do as your bosses ask you to do. The work place is a means of socializing people, making sure that they behave appropriately. A man who has no job is a dangerous man for he could engage in anti social behaviors. We must, therefore, provide all citizens with jobs.
(The rulers of Nigeria are an interesting bunch. They do not strive to provide young Nigerians with jobs. They do not care. We know that a person is most likely to become a criminal between the ages of fourteen and twenty four. Thus, rational societies either keep these age groups in school or at work. If you leave them roaming the streets, as they do in Nigeria, what do you expect? Guess? They may engage in criminal activities. This has nothing to do with race; it is a world wide phenomenon. If this is so, how come we do not provide our young people with schooling and work? We are self centered and care only for our selves? Okay. Those young persons are increasingly urban and not rural persons bound by tribal taboos; they are increasingly emancipated from religions induced fear of God. They are increasingly having access to guns. Guess who they will use those weapons on? Guess again? They would use them on the adults that ignored their welfare. If we do not care for our young, why should they preserve our life? Please do not talk about God punishing them for their criminal activities for you your self is evil for not helping our young persons. If our leaders do not care for our young, our young will eventually harm or kill them. They are better dead, anyway.)
The final agent of socialization is the associations’ people join. If the individual joins groups, participates in their activities and obeys their rules, he is most likely to learn to play by the rules of the game. For example, those Nigerians who participate in naija politics learn to play by its rules. They are less likely to engage in shady business (419). It is always those persons who avoid others, who hide and do their evil in the dark. These types of Nigerians are responsible for screwing Americans. I am talking about credit card racketeers.
NIGERIA’S POLITICAL SOCIALIZATION
The above description of the phenomenon is applicable everywhere in the world.
Every culture tries to socialize its children into accepting its specific politics and political ideology (we shall deal with political ideology next week). People every where get their children to accept their politics.
Children whose parents are conservatives are socialized to be conservatives; those whose parents are liberals, by osmosis, imbibe their parent’s liberal ideology. As adults people behave like their parents did, politically.
Let us briefly look at the main Nigerian groups. Igbos are republican democrats. They trend to socialize their children to accept their political ideology. Igbo children are told that they are on their own and must work for what they want out of life. They are discouraged from depending on other people to help them. Therefore, they tend to belong to conservative parties. (In America, such as the Republican Party in America; in Europe such as the British Conservative party and the German Christian Democratic party).
Hausas are Muslims. They believe that it is their duty to care for their unfortunate brothers and sisters. Rich Hausas give generously to the unfortunate around them. This generous attitude to life naturally disposes them to become liberals. Thus, Hausas are more likely to be found in American Democratic type parties. As we shall see when we talk of political ideologies, liberals want to use government to improve the lives of the poor. Those who care for the poor will naturally want big government and use it to help their brothers.
Yorubas are the most cosmopolitan Nigerians; they are exposed to the competing ideologies and different Yorubas choose differently. Thus, you are likely to find genuine Yoruba socialists, capitalists and any other belief on the ideological spectrum.
All societies socialize their people to accept certain politics and behave as such. It is when people behave as their group expects of them that their polity survive. In America, for example, the system socializes people to support a republican- capitalist-democracy. If you support that system, the system rewards you. If not, the system punishes you. The system’s gatekeepers have their watchful eyes on every body. If you are known to be against the system, you might as well leave the country. You are simply not going to obtain a good job in God’s own country if you are a known communist. The velvet dictator keeps trouble makers out of the avenues where they could make trouble and do damage. You may be allowed to run around the ghetto and talk socialism but the moment you actually try to do something about it, off you go to jail. Campus socialist talk is permitted but to, in fact, be a socialist revolutionary and try to implant Marxian ideology is repressed.
To obtain a good job, your background is carefully scrutinized, including having an FBI check done on you. Simply stated, the establishment keeps out trouble makers and keeps in system supportive fellows.
Nor is this an American phenomenon. All countries do the same thing. The rulers of Nigeria keep out any one likely to make trouble for them. They certainly would not give jobs to a person who insists on not giving bribes. And if you manage to secure a good job in Nigeria and refuse to play their corruption game, the powers that be would not invite you to their inner sanctum, where policies are made. You would be ostracized and marginalized.
Every political system socializes its citizens to endorse it. Fascistic political systems like Hitler’s Nazi Germany consciously went about indoctrinating every child into accepting its ideology and punishing those who refused to buy into the system. In more refined societies like the USA, the system does not resort to brutal indoctrination of children but does it more subtly. School children begin the day by singing allegiance to the political system. If you write papers that indicate that you support the system you are rewarded, if opposed to the system you are made an outsider. Communistic Russia and Maoist China, like fascists, overtly indoctrinated the people into their ideology.
This is just the ways it is. The business of science is to study reality as it is, and not necessarily to change it. The question is not whether what political systems do is good or bad; science merely tells you about what they do. It is up to you to decide what you do with that information.
It does not matter whether a system is communist, socialist, capitalist or Christian; they are all indoctrinating their citizens. To know what is going on is to be wiser. Some one is always trying to get you to accept their world view. All you can do is clarify what your own world view is. Know what your politics is. As long as you are genuinely convinced that your politics is the correct one no one should rebuke you. You cannot ask a human being not to be truthfully to his honest beliefs.
In this light, if socialism or capitalism makes sense to you, go for it. But do not go for it to please your peer groups, to get them to like and approve you. Go for your conviction.
Nigerian political leaders, like political leaders everywhere in the world, attempt to socialize their children into their politics.
Each ethnic group, overtly or covertly, tell its young people that they ought to place their ethnic group’s interests ahead of the nation’s interests.
Nigeria is a sick polity and needs healing. It does not need to die. I personally like to live in a multi ethnic society. I do not like to live in a mono ethnic society. I believe that we learn most when we are exposed to people from different backgrounds. Diversity is the spice of life. We must keep Nigeria one but seek ways to make her a healthier polity. We must socialize our children to work for an all Nigerians serving government.
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
October 6, 2005
Lecture 4 will be on Nigeria’s Political Ideologies, on October 10.
Posted by Administrator at October 7, 2005 02:39 AM