Conservatives and liberals vs. freethinkers

I have read several posts on the Internet lately written by people averring we are heading for another civil war in the United States, this one between conservatives and liberals. It appears violence or the threat of violence between these groups is escalating in the US. The recent clash between conservative and liberal students on the campus at Berkeley, in which students came to blows using their fists, is a case in point.

The Civil War in the US was not really a civil war, as Paul Craig Roberts pointed out recently in an Internet article at

A civil war is between two or more groups that want to take over through military violence the same government and impose their beliefs and policies on everyone in the country. The so-called Civil War in the US in the 1860s would have been more accurately called the Secessionary War, or, as some people, primarily Southerners, wanted to call it, the War Between the States. This war was between a sub-group of the US known as the Confederate States of America that wanted to form its own government in its seceded territory to preserve slavery and what would have been left of the original group known as the United States of America.

No one with an Internet connection or a mainstream media newspaper subscription could have missed posts and stories in recent months in the US about “fake” news permeating the US. Calling the US Civil War a civil war has been a form of fake news that’s been in US history books since that war, whatever you want to call it, ended in 1865. Those in power can cause news and history books to be written the way they want, and if it suits their purposes to call a secessionary war a civil war, then so be it.

It’s no secret that published definitions of events are often misconstrued for public relations purposes, to save face or promote the vested interests of one kind of group or another, whether families, religions, schools, governments, corporations, military units, political parties, countries, or cultures. Reality is often defined rather than described, usually euphemistically to make the people involved seem more like rescuers rather than persecutors or victims, more like heroes rather than villains, and more like saints rather than sinners.

After the violence of wars, takeovers, and revolutions finally ceases, the winners and bosses with power in their hands say, “It’s my way or the highway,” so that’s the way it is. Most vanquished people salute and say “Yes, sir,” or they get shot, fired, court-martialed, sluiced out, or run off, maybe starved to death, or maybe get sent to hell, so they and their families, if they have families, acquiesce. Most people go along to get along, peacefully some say.

Why so many humans around Spaceship Earth want to breed so many children and expose them to this disingenuous brutal process—rife with and feeding on inequality, insecurity, fear, misery, hunger, injustice, disease, humiliation, and poverty—currently seriously afflicting about one-fourth of the human population around Spaceship Earth, almost two billion people, including about twenty million people literally starving to death—is pathetic.

Most conservatives and liberals are authoritarians. They believe or pretend to believe, take pride in, and adhere to certain definitions, doctrines, dogmas, beliefs, and logic systems about how to run their worlds and are willing to fight for them, as Internet posts on Facebook show.

Posts written by ordinary people on Facebook often contain fake news, propaganda, fantasies, conspiracy theories, wishes, desires, grievances, pleas for help, irrelevancies, and insane ideas and beliefs, but these posts also show what people from various walks of life around Earth think, wish, believe, want, and need, however crude, irrelevant, or untruthful their posts might be.

Much of the content revealed in artless dysphemistic Facebook posts about the feelings, thoughts, wants, needs, and behaviors of people is something you won’t find in mainstream media because professional gatekeepers block it so as to hopefully make their MSM “presentations” more civil, pleasant, artful, and profitable. Facebook is therefore educating the public regarding a form of truth that was largely unpublished in the past. Whether this new kind of published “knowledge” will improve states of affairs in the long run remains to be seen.

During the run-up to the primaries and the US presidential election of 2016 I made numerous Facebook posts about why I thought none of the Republican candidates should be president of the US. I was an active supporter of Bernie Sanders, considering him a freethinker fit to be president, which, as it turned out, he wasn’t after he caved in to Democratic Party pressure becoming or pretending to become a loyal Democrat supporting Hillary, possibly to save himself from a mysterious fatal ending similar to the deaths of others in Hillary’s political circles with dubious loyalty, as written about in Facebook posts.

I confirmed scores of Democrats who wanted to be my Facebook friend because of what I wrote in Facebook posts in support of Bernie Sanders, almost reaching Facebook’s friend limit of five thousand.

I did not think Hillary should be president so I supported and voted for Jill Stein, of the Green Party, considering her suitable to be president of the US. I may have been wrong about Jill Stein but if I was I was honestly wrong based on the facts of the case at the time. I did not vote for her merely because of her or my political party dogmas and beliefs.

My supporting Jill Stein in Internet posts after Sanders’s capitulation before the November election did not sit well with my Democrat fair-weather friends on Facebook. Some of them “unfriended” me, and some of them blocked my posts from their pages and groups. Some called me a “troll,” an insult to an academic like me who generally tells the truth as he sees it, shedding light for sake of light, and all that. I was surprised and dismayed to learn that some of these erstwhile Facebook Democrat friends got mad because I would not support Hillary after Sanders capitulated, attacking my character in some cases. Apparently they thought I should cathect my Adapted Child ego state, pretend to be a loyal Democrat, not do what I thought was right using my Adult ego state, and vote for the lesser evil like they told me to, Hillary in their opinion.

I will define these capitalized terms a few paragraphs later.

In retrospect in overall perspective, it seems to me the Adult thing to do in most elections is vote for the person you think is the best choice and let the chips fall where they may. It seems to me party line voting increases the evils of polarization and vested interests, not resulting in creating the greater good for the greater number most of the time.

I taught thirty-five years as the only case method teacher in a business school, so I have long experience resisting groupthink pressures for conformity. I was able to survive as a freethinker largely because of getting tenure and promotion to full professor at age thirty-six.

Read a free copy of my book, Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds, and especially read reprints in it of my articles “The Classroom De-Gamer” and “Academic Entrepreneurship: Using the Case Method to Simulate Competitive Business Markets” and “Teaching Business Using the Case Method and Transactional Analysis: A Constructivist Approach,” published in the Transactional Analysis Journal and the Journal of Management Education. Read also my case, “Games Educators Play” and my summary article, “Evidence the Case Method Works,” presenting longitudinal research data indicating my case method students made more money in the real world after they got out of college than students taking courses in the same subjects not requiring the case method. All of these former students had been working in the so-called real world of business at least five years, and some of them had been out there fifteen years.

The case method is the only teaching method I know of that rewards freethinking skills. It requires students to think about business as a whole taking everything into account. The grading has to be subjective, since real cases do not have provably true right answers, only relatively good answers that work.

In my courses the final grade was eighty percent based on class participation, primarily determined by the quantity and quality of ideas a student sold in the class market. The assigned class grade point average in my courses the year I retired (2005) was about 2.5, according to Pick-A-Prof, a website showing the grades of professors at colleges and universities started and maintained at the time by some enterprising students at the University of Texas.

I assigned the lowest grades of professors teaching the courses I taught in our business school. I used nothing but the case method, being a freethinker. Other teachers teaching the same subjects used other methods, primarily the lecture method, being authoritarians.

I randomly selected a student in my classes to start the case discussion every day as soon as I came in the room. If he or she was caught unprepared having not read the facts of the case, having not disclosed the unpreparedness to me before class, s/he lost a full letter grade from the course final grade. The discussions were essentially democratic. For more detail about rules necessary to manage such a process see my “Academic Entrepreneurship” article in the Journal of Management Education mentioned above.

I have no idea what grades I would assign based on the quantity and quality of ideas offered for sale on Facebook. How would you go about determining what is average for all Facebook participants/writers/posters to get a referent point to gauge relative grades for individuals? Some Facebook posters are relatively excellent spouting off, dreaming up, and writing posts and some are relatively poor. Some deserve A’s and some deserve B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s, but how would you determine grades for specific posters? And who is you? Anybody knows nobody is going to assign grades for Facebook participants.

An Adapted Child ego state, mentioned above, is a structural and functional part of the human psyche first identified, described, and modeled by Eric Berne, MD, the founder of the International Transactional Analysis Association, through which I became a certified transactional analyst in 1978.

Read Business Voyages and my book Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning to learn more about the human psyche according to transactional analysts. See my RJS Academic Vita webpage on our website for Effective Learning Company for a fuller listing of my education and training experiences in this regard.

There are actually six ego states comprising the human psyche according to transactional analysis observations, research, identifications, and modeling: the Nurturing Parent, the Critical Parent, the Adult, the Free Child, the Adapted Child, and the Rebel Child, any one of which is appropriate when cathected and instantiated in various social and psychological transactions, situations, and cases.

To cathect is to turn on or energize an ego state; to instantiate is to bring into play or apply an ego state in a transaction.

What is an authoritarian and what is a freethinker in TA terms?

An authoritarian, hereinafter referred to in this article as an Auth (my acronym invented for this article) in my TA view is someone who lives his or her life making decisions primarily based on rules, doctrines, dogmas, algorithms, procedures, logic and the like primarily using the Critical Parent, Adult, and Adapted Child ego states.

A freethinker, a Frth (also my invention), is a person who primarily lives her or his life using the Nurturing Parent, Adult, and Free Child ego states, making decisions based on what seems ethical, logical, and reasonable for all stakeholders in the short and long run, based on the relevant facts of the case.

How does one become an Auth or a Frth?

Mostly it happens because of whom one is born to. If your parents were Auths, most likely you will become one too, and the same is true for Frths. There are always exceptions, but this is the general rule or pattern, because children automatically and psychologically introject into their psyches the ego states, transactional patterns, games, time structuring patterns, scripts, and schemata of their parents in early childhood. Certain ego states and transactions are good for being Auths and others are good for being Frths.

To introject is to automatically and psychologically take in or incorporate ego states and visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory content in a psyche from others based on actual sightings, hearings, and exposure. Early introjected ego states and transactions are like videos stored in human memories that can be cathected and instantiated in transactions and situations throughout life.

Authoritarian roles primarily require rules, dogmas, doctrines, procedures, logic systems, and algorithms, using what is referred to as working memory in the brain, requiring downloading programs and data onto the desktop of Adult ego states, the computer desktop of the psyche, as it were, and then figuring out what is right based on logic, procedures, precedent, algorithms, and the like, producing answers considered absolutely true or false, after sizing and defining problems and opportunities to fit a Procrustean bed.

Freethinking roles primarily require using whole brain memory to integrate diverse ideas, concepts, images, and facts to create relatively true pictures of states of affairs, producing conclusions that are true as a matter of probability, producing policies and strategies that are relatively true or false, some better and worse than others when implemented in states of affairs, taking everything into account.

Auths are fundamentally mechanics; Frths are fundamentally poets. Imagination is an asset for Frths, a liability for Auths.

A good many of the posts on Facebook are coming from Rebel Child ego states (maybe 5 percent), but, just guessing, more are coming from Critical Parent (say 30 percent) and Adapted Child ego states (say 20 percent). Some of the posts are coming from Adult (maybe 20 percent), Nurturing Parent (maybe 5 percent), and Free Child ego states (maybe 20 percent). Just guessing again, I would say about seventy percent of Facebook posters are Auths and about thirty percent are Frths.

True believer Republicans and Democrats in the US are Auths, attacking one another’s core beliefs, dogmas, doctrines, policies, and logic, and both Repubs and Demos are now attacking Frths for being disloyal. Auths generally believe in conformity and warfare to save their own kind and to hell with everyone else. Frths are generally more creative, individualistic, empathetic, accepting, and peace loving.

Let us pray our polarized uncivil verbal and political war in the US fought for decades between Repubs and Demos does not morph into a physical war escalating from the Berkeley fisticuffs skirmish between radical indoctrinated students on the right and left into radical indoctrinated authoritarian unscholarly semi-literate citizen fanatics on the right and left shooting one another on the streets of the US with semi-automatic pistols and rifles, and machine guns, as some extremists on the right and left have fantasized and written about in Internet posts I have read.

There won’t be a Mason-Dixon line in this war, if it happens. This will be a real civil war in the US, and it might happen in any state, Red or Blue.

Unfortunately, one can build a case un-civil verbal and political wars between Auths on the right and left and between Auths and Frths have been going on around Earth for several centuries, probably since at least about 1700. And a case can be made the causes of these un-civil wars generation after generation have been biologically and psychologically embedded in human psyches starting in mothers’ wombs before births, and during life experiences, especially during life experiences happening before humans are eight years old.

It seems to me humans need to figure out ways for all humans to cathect and instantiate more Nurturing Parent, Adult, and Free Child ego state energy and transactions living their lives so as to help co-construct new, productive, and peaceful processes and systems that will result in life satisfaction and long run existence for all creatures large and small living on land and in water around Spaceship Earth, before it’s too late.

Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA, is an emeritus professor of entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, business ethics, and business policy at Georgia Southern University who writes on business and politics at

3 Responses to Conservatives and liberals vs. freethinkers

  1. Paul E. Ziegler

    Your definition of a furth is close to what I call a “True Liberal” which to me is basically a person who supports the values of The Enlightenment (pretty much what Jefferson espoused, not what he lived). I would agree that many Democrats are hardly furths but I think they should be. Given the current voting arrangements running as a 3rd party candidate is counterproductive. If you listen closely to Bernie you know that his idea of the route to power in the existing system is to reform the Democratic Party. Non-establishment candidates are usually lacking in a political track record and our experience tends to be that they say one thing & govern differently, just look at Trump. Jill Stein has never held public office.

    Are you involved in Indivisable 12? If not I think you should be if only to be part of the conversation. I’m pretty sure you know Jane Page, or at least her husband Greg Brook. If you are interested they can get you connected.

    P.S. I have always heard free thinker used as a euphemism for atheist, of which there are more in this area than you might suspect.

  2. Mr. Stapleton, your beloved freethinkers are under siege by establiment authoritarians. Authoritarians have contrived a system to deal with creative, intelligent independent thinkers that constantly hinder their political & social policy regimes.
    The psychiatric profession is being geared up to become a weapons system to be used to silence, control & discredit dissenting individuals in society. Indeed, psychiatry & the deep state intends to intervene in childhood to identify & prevent these individuals from developing into intellectual leaders & voices of dissent against the deep state authoritarian global networks.
    Early childhood identification & intervention through out primary & secondary education is the field of battle where children & families will be bludgeoned into obedience, conformity & “normative thought” compliance that is dictated & suitable for the uses of the authoritarian political elite.

  3. Thanks, Paul. You’re right about the term freethinker and atheist. On the other hand, all freethinkers are not atheists. Freethinker founding fathers of the US such as Payne, Jefferson, and Franklin considered themselves deists. I had a freethinker great grandfather many times removed, The Reverend Doctor James Maury, a French Huguenot, who taught Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and Monroe in a boarding school in Virginia. He was a strict Calvinist, as were most of my US ancestors, some of whom I mentioned in my book, Business Voyages.