End-Time Panic and The Liberal Ghost Dance
The great psychoanalytic anthropologist Weston LaBarre wrote extensively of "crisis cults," which involve non-rational belief systems that cultures develop when under severe stress and faced with breakdown. Similar to the neurotic individual, at the core of every crisis cult is a welcome but false "noble lie" which "is defended with the same religious fanaticism as neurosis." As he writes, "Crisis cults are notable for their foolishness and unreality, because they tend to deny and misapprehend the real situation surrounding the society. But they all promise relief from unendurable current catastrophe." In fact, as irrational as they may appear on the surface, the crisis cult is "the would-be therapy of the traumatized culture." It doesn't do anything in the real world, but it comforts those who cling to the beliefs of the crisis cult.
In his book The Ghost Dance, LaBarre describes dozens of crisis cults. In fact, the book takes its title from one of the most famous crisis cults, the Ghost Dance of the late 19th century, when American Indians were facing the complete dissolution of their way of life--loss of their hunting territories, near extinction of the once vast buffalo herds, a series of disastrous military defeats, multiple droughts, and new and fatal diseases. The Ghost Dance was a fantasied solution to all their problems, involving the widespread idea that "a new skin would slide over the old earth, covering up the whites and all their works, and bringing upon it new trees and plants, great buffalo herds, the ghosts of the dead, and the great departed warriors and chiefs." This utopia would come about if only each person in all the tribes danced the elaborate Ghost Dance.
Another famous example is the "cargo cult" of early 20th century New Guinea. There, the natives couldn't help but notice that they had to work very hard, while the white colonialists seemed to sit around a lot, and received great stores of goods simply by sending out little scraps of paper. They reasoned that this had something to do with the mysterious cargo ships that left with native products and returned loaded down with all of the machines and other items that seemed to make the white men so powerful. The New Guineans developed the idea that these powerful objects were fashioned by their ancestors in a far-off volcano and were actually meant for them. But in order to ensure receiving them, they would have to imitate the behaviors of the white men by "sitting solemnly and speechlessly around tables," waiting for their ship to come in, so to speak.
Yesterday I ninety percent half-seriously proposed a new category of personality disorder to account for the increasing nuttiness and desperation of progressive thought, which has of late become so detached from reality. But upon further reflection, perhaps we are dealing with a crisis cult. After all, progressives are having to cope with a catastrophic collapse of their world and all of its comforting myths. As each myth crumbles in succession, they become increasingly frantic in papering over reality with the downright strange beliefs of their progressive crisis cult.
Just as a neurosis is a personal culture, a culture--especially a subculture--is often a collective neurosis. I realized quite some time ago that it is not possible to respond to the content of a dailykos, since it is so histrionic and perpendicular to reality. As a psychologist, I assumed that the hysterical, paranoid, narcissistic, or antisocial content had to do with the personal issues of the writers, but there could be another way of looking at the florid material, that is, as a collective response to the ongoing crisis at the core of progressive thought. Instead of examining their assumptions, these progressives prescribe more of the same--only worse!--in a way that seems calculated to turn off and drive away the average moderate voter who has at least one foot in the real world.
A case in point is the public's reaction ot the NSA non-scandal. I'm sure the number would be even higher if the public were totally informed about it, but as it stands, almost two thirds agree with the President that it is a pretty good idea to monitor incoming international calls from suspected terrorists. And yet, the left is now openly discussing impeachment charges, as if this will magically resuscitate their sagging fortunes. It's a classic ghost dance.
Likewise, Air America is a sad ghost dance. The primitive progressives observed the big bwana, Rush Limbaugh, and noticed that he simply sat at a table speaking into a microphone and attracted millions of listeners. They would angrily do the same thing, and watch their ratings soar! But it was not to be. The ratings ship loaded down with goodies never arrived. Nevertheless, the Air America ghost dance will continue for as long as George Soros and his ilk fund it.
Here is a fine example of a raving ghost dance plucked from huffingtonpost, entitled A Time to Slay the Republican Medusa by James Boyce, a Kerry campaign operative. Boyce is like the natives who noticed the powerful white men ruling their lives. He asks the obvious question any primitive would ask: how did they fool everyone and become so powerful?
Easy. The "appeasement of Republican Evil has led our country to the precipice where we stand today." The decent and fair-minded Democrats are "hindered by their own beliefs in equality" and "hamstrung by their sense of fair play." As such, they just don't understand "the Medusa of Republican Evil unleashed by the election of the Puppet King, George W. Bush," which will continue to "pursue its frighteningly radical agenda in the face of good intentions."
Problem is, "Decent rational human beings have a tendency to falter in front of pure evil" such as Adolf Hitler or George Bush. "Those who themselves have no capacity for evil within, respectable decent men like Joe Lieberman and Harry Reid, lack the fundamental capacity to recognize and fight evil in others. We do not need to become evil to defeat it -- but we need to recognize its presence to slaughter it." (Er, I think he has the wrong guy in Lieberman, who clearly does recognize evil. Only in Islamofascists, not George Bush.)
Boyce continues his desperate diagnosis of a crumbling world: if progressives "show any sign of resistance, the Medusa will become increasingly horrific in its actions like a wounded cornered wild animal.... [as] their dreams of their utopian world are finished, they will fight with all the weapons they possibly can without any sense of decency or conscience." (You first year psychology students out there, what is the name of the defense mechanism Boyce is squeezing every last drop from here? That's right, projection.)
This is the progressive supernatural nightmare that is happening before our eyes! "Imagine living in a world where the sole purpose of the US military is to attack countries and spread democracy through war.... Imagine no Social Security for our elders or disabled. No protection for women's rights.... Imagine a crippling national debt -- solely created for the purpose of funding vast and enormous wealth for a few who use their considerable wealth to fund and feed the Medusa in a cruel cycle which continually concentrates the wealth of the nation.... Student loans? Gone. Global warming? Accelerated because the fuels that create it drive the economic engine. Torture? Slithering from the prisons of Iraq to a jail near you. Torturing Americans in the name of the War on Terror? It's a matter of time sadly, unless, of course it's already happening.... This is the core of the true agenda."
It gets worse! "The Medusa, when cornered and threatened, will lash out with increasing ferocity and terror before it is destroyed. John Kerry was a real threat to them, and when this was recognized, the true evil surfaced.... what's truly important to realize is that we are not yet engaged in a fight to the death with them -- but they are fully engaged in a fight to the death with us." Delaying for even a second "leaves the Republican Medusa emboldened and gives it the oxygen it needs to grow and become more powerful."
Islamofascist, er, I mean, Republican evil "feeds upon weakness. Evil lives for the chance to destroy those who hesitate. Evil grows bolder when an opponent or something standing in its way falters."
Okay! We get it! The ghost dance must begin! Now!
What do we do?!!! What are the specific dance steps to kill the Republican Medusa and regain our progressive mojo?!!!
"You kill a Medusa by cutting off its head. You need to be a warrior and get blood on your hands and guts on your shoes."
Yes, but how, dammit?
By supporting the far left online community!
"The online community has the proven ability to fight and defend candidates. We need to defend them.... The online community has the proven ability to raise money and support candidates. We need to support them. We need to spread the word one person at a time, and one million people online at a time."
Excellent! God's gift to Republicans is the perpetual online ghost dance at dailykos, huffingtonpost and hundreds of other primitive progressive websites. As long as they keep dancing, our blessedly evil Medusa lives another day. I am proud to have my own personal ghost lap-dancing troll, L.A. Larry. It means the message is getting out, and the Great Liberal Ghost Dance drags on for our endless amusement. (Umm, anybody know how much I'm supposed to tip for a personal ghost dance?)