About the Project

“It takes six months to change a political regime, six years to change the economy and at least 60 years to change society.”

Ralf Dahrendorf, 1990

Authoritarianism is back in vogue. The single most reliable predictor of voting for a populist candidate is not race, gender, education, ideology or any of the usual suspects. It is scoring high on the authoritarianism scale.

Due to a combination of socialisation, individual inclinations, and circumstances (recession or a security threat) authoritarians are more fond of conformity and order, and more wary of outsiders. They are more likely to vote for a strongman to deal with the uncertainties and (perceived) threats. They fear and admire the strong and abhor the weak.

Pro-freedom communication had long used the frames provided by populists. Friends of freedom react to issues of the day and fight the symptoms of internalised unfreedom one at a time.

Aim of the Project

The project aims at finding out what social psychology, cognitive and behavioural science, and habituation studies have to say about the desire to be free – and our lingering microhabits of unfreedom.

To find out if there are any nudges, behavioural or attitude hacks that help remove the real obstacles to freedom (fear, helplessness, the absence of trust, etc.) – as opposed fighting the symptoms (populism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, etc.) or addressing the excuses on the surface (emergencies, enemies, economic or security challenges).

It aims at putting pro-freedom communication on a sound narrative footing, supported by cognitive and behavioural science, that resonates with the underlying motivations and sentiments in its implied messages.

It aims to design and deliver a training to

1) Raise awareness of the underlying thinking patterns of unfreedom,

2) To learn to successfully respond in a practical workshop, and

3) To let participants contribute to an innovative way to promote aspirational ideas.

If authoritarian thinking can be evoked – so can the opposite.

“We forget that, although each of the liberties which have been won must be defended with utmost vigour, the problem of freedom is not only a quantitative one, but a qualitative one; that we not only have to preserve and increase the traditional freedom, but that we have to gain a new kind of freedom, one which enables us to realize our own individual self; to have faith in this self and in life.”

Erich FROMM, 1942

Read more for:

The Need for the Project

What Does the Project Do?



One thought on “About the Project

  1. Pingback: How oppressive regimes rob their victims of their sense of agency 1. Terror-bonding | How To Make People Want To Be Free

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