HOA social dynamics and the loss of “freedom of mind”
By: George K. Staropoli, March 18, 2019
A very disturbing behavior by the vast majority of HOA members in many HOAs, both large and small, is their willingness, their wholehearted obedience, and their unquestioned loyalty to behave as instructed by their board of directors (BOD). When confronted with contradicting views, criticizing and opposing the BOD’s actions and conduct — supported by documentation in statutes, correspondence and BOD behavior — members simply ignore the evidence. These unknown neighbors, these strangers for the most part, who apparently cannot think for themselves can affect your home without your consent.
And when questioned and confronted as to their reasons and justifications for these outright illogical and wrongful acts by their BOD, the questioner is met with a cult-like resistance and dogmatic defense. The defenses are a combination of, among other things,
- the BOD can do no wrong;
- the BOD is made up of volunteers doing what’s right for the HOA;
- outright denying and disputing the opposing arguments without investigation;
- labelling the questioner as a troublemaker and attacking his motives; ostracize, and disparage;
- a defense consisting of slogans and mottos, like “no government interference.”
The BOD demands faith (never question), loyalty (agreement with the BOD), and obedience (suffer the consequences for disobedience, both financially and emotionally). However, there may be a small opposition group, but it usually lacks the power to be effective because the governing documents have been designed to restrict such “upstarts.” HOAs restrict the freedom of political speech as permitted in the public domain.
I am aware of two instances — both in Arizona by upscale, large HOAs — of the extreme degree to which members display a lack of “freedom of the mind”[i] concerning amendments to the governing documents that have material consequences. In both cases the membership was given notice of serious violations of the law and governing documents supported by hard evidence. In both instances the BOD failed to address these concerns and to justify its actions. The vote was allowed to continue and the amendments became, in my view, falsely effective.
There is clear and convincing evidence that this irrational behavior is the result of a long-term, systematic program of indoctrination using propaganda[ii] as the means to accomplish the aims and goals – the “party line” — of the propagandists. Enforcement of the party line can be found in the same methods used to enforce cult obedience.[iii] The causes of this state of affairs in HOA-Land[iv] are analogous to the pressures of the pre-WWII Germans and today in America with respect to Facebook and other businesses fostering social media for their own self-serving agenda, respectively.
Milton Mayer interviewed average Germans in 1955 asking how could they let the Nazis take control. One telling response was that the “good” Germans went along “in the usual sincerity that required them only to abandon one principle after another, to throw away, little by little, all that was good.”[v] The vehicle for this abandonment was the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
Roger McNamee[vi] describes Facebook’s motive and mission as to make money by allowing people to “talk” to each over the Internet. Facebook uses behavioral modification techniques such as, playing on “’lizard brain’ emotions such as fear and anger,” “giving users ‘what they want,’” and “[nudging] user attention in directions that Facebook wants.” Both examples seek to control and limit the people’s “freedom of mind” by indoctrinating them to their self-serving agendas. The analogies to HOA-Land are striking.
Continue with Part 2.
[ii] Propaganda techniques: glittering generalities; testimonials from prominent people; name calling; use of false and misleading statements.
[iii] Obedience: “a form of “social influence in which a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure.”
[iv] I have defined HOA-Land as a collection of fragmented independent principalities within America, known in general as “HOAs,” that are separate local private governments not subject to the constitution, and that collectively constitute a nation within the United States.
[v] They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer, 1955.
[vi] Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, Roger McNamee, Penguin Press (2019).