All in the Family
Yesterday I mentioned the idea that in the deep unconscious, where symmetrical logic dominates, both a proposition and its converse can be equally true. This is in contrast to the asymmetrical logic of the conscious mind, in which the converse of a true proposition is a false one. I cited the example of the biblical "proposition" that Jesus died to atone for man's sins against God. However, in the symmetrical unconscious, it might be equally true that Jesus died for God's transgressions against man, thus, without his consciously realizing it, help human beings process their unconscious anger or disappointment toward God.
One could argue that this isn't true, but that's not the point. This is simply how the unconscious mind perceives things, and we wouldn't be human if it didn't. Rather, we'd be more like machines or liberals, just slaves to linear logic, emotion, or the senses. Creativity is not usually a result of logic, but of the unconscious mind's spontaneous ability to form all kinds of unpredictable connections, just as in a dream. It is a merger of Male and Female in their most abstract essences. Especially in Jungian psychology, the unconscious has always been conceptualized as feminine, the conscious as masculine. Neither alone has unfettered access to truth, but psychological health and happiness depend upon a harmonious dialectic between them -- a marriage of opposites, as it were.
Likewise, we all know that in a highly charged emotional situation, it is possible to argue falsely by recourse to common-sense logic. You see this all the time in male-female relations, in which, say, a woman will make an emotionally charged comment, to which the man responds with mere logic, and they're off to the races. The astute man will discern the deeper content of the emotional communication -- the emotional truth that the woman is trying to convey, usually about their relationship -- and not respond to it in a literal manner. It's like two very different forms of communication, and each must learn the other's language.
Anyone who's been happily married for a long time knows that this leads to emotional growth. It's difficult to say this without sounding condescending, but this is the reason why women, when they marry, tend to become both happier and more conservative -- because of the male influence. It's just a fact. Or at least a tendency.
But this is not to suggest that men don't equally benefit from the relationship, since they become more deeply "emotionally intelligent," and researchers are only now understanding the importance this neglected concept. I am in awe of Mrs. G's maternal emotional intelligence, and how attuned she is to Future Leader. (And of course, it should be borne in mind that we are dealing in great generalizations to which it is easy to find exceptions. For example, truly, Margaret Thatcher was a much greater man than any contemporary male liberal I can think of.)
I think we can see this same dynamic in the dysfunctional relationship between the left -- which is so obviously like a child or hysterical (the operative word is hysterical) female -- and the right, which too often deals with the left as if mere logic will satisfy them. It doesn't work and it won't work, as anyone who's tried to have a rational conversation with a leftist knows. In their shrill paranoia, narcissism, and hysteria, it's as if the left is crying out in pain, so that their literal words are completely unimportant. If it were a micro-relationship, we'd know how to deal with them.
But in the macro realm, how does one respond to a whole psychoclass of histrionic girly men? (And please keep in mind that we are specifically talking about a form of dysfunctional feminized consciousness, not the normal or healthy variety. A radical feminist is not a normal woman, any more than Dennis Kucinich is a normal man.) In fact, to be fair, the left is mainly composed of hysterical women (of both sexes) and of adolescent boys and girls. In both cases, there is a developmental arrest, the failure to become a proper man or woman. Indeed, this is one of the premises of leftism, which rejects any concept of a spiritual telos to human psychological growth. Rather, all is relative, so that no way of living or being is superior to any other.
Just as emotion can be used to distort logical truth, logic can be used to distort emotional truth. Here is a fine example of the latter from dailykos, which uses bizarre pseudo-logic and dubious "facts" -- facts that are actually created out of a deep unconscious need -- to propagate perverse lies:
"The social and economic achievements of the revolutionary regime in Iran in the past 25 years look quite progressive in reducing poverty and social inequalities.... Compared to rising inequality in the United States and Israel, ranked numbers one and two for social inequality among developed nations, the Iranians look pretty damn good.
"That, of course, is the problem. If Iran, rather like Venezuela, becomes a regional leader and examplar of social democracy, it becomes a threat to the corporatist and militarist elites that dominate the political classes of Washington and Tel Aviv and exploit the mineral and oil wealth of underdeveloped nations.
"Women and children rarely suffer the isolation, poverty and violence in Iran that so many suffer from family breakdown in America. Women in Iran are now universally educated, taking 65 percent of university places, marrying later, having fewer children, and driving social change. Even Iran has a vibrant gay subculture. The United States imprisons a higher proportion of its population than Iran (or any other nation) does, and that proportion continues to rise despite falling crime rates. Every society is different, and our values are not their values in some ways, but which government best serves the interests of its people is an open question in my mind given that the vast majority of Iranians have benefitted from the social and economic progress of the past 25 years."
Yes, it's crazy. In short, whatever "truth" there is in any of this is being mobilized in the service of a series of monstrous lies. But how could you ever begin to help such a person realize the extent to which their consciousness -- their entire being -- has been infiltrated by the Lie? That they aren't just lying -- to which it would be easy to respond -- but they are a Lie?
This is why I think it was naive of Dean Bollinger to think that his sharp words would have any effect on Ahmadinejad, who also embodies the Lie. One way or another, someone like Ahmadinejad needs to be liquidated, not debated. It's like the police inviting a criminal to come to the police station to lecture them about how bad the police are, and then letting the criminal go his merry way. If the police said, "yes, but we gave the criminal a good talking-to before their lecture," this wouldn't exactly help matters.
(And now an older, somewhat related post from almost two years ago, since I'm out of time.)
One of the central concerns of Jewish theological metaphysics is the idea of separation. When God creates the world, he separates order from primordial chaos, light from darkness, water from land. Without the first step of separation, no further development is possible. This is why Judaism stresses the importance of maintaining and not blending the differences between male and female, adult and child, human and animal, civilized and barbaric, religion and magic, holy and profane.
It is interesting that the American political system -- at least in the 20th century -- spontaneously bifurcated into two-parties more or less mirroring the antecedent maternal and paternal spheres. As it evolved, the Republican party came to represent masculine virtues such as competition, maintaining strict rules (“law and order”), standards over compassion, delayed gratification, and respect for the ways of the father -- that is, conserving what had been handed down by previous generations of fathers, and not just assuming in our adolescent hubris that we know better than they.
The Democratic party, on the other hand, came to represent the realm of maternal nurturance -- compassion over standards (i.e., racial quotas), idealization of the impulses (just as a mother is delighted in the instinctual play of her child), mercy over judgment (reduced prison sentences, criminal rights, etc.), cradle-to-grave welfare, a belief that we can seduce our enemies and do not have to defeat them with violence (Carter, Clinton, Kerry), and the notion that meaning, truth and values are all arbitrary and subject to change (just as is the emotional world in general).
It has become a banality to point out that something is broken in our political system, in that the two parties no longer work together, and seem to be completely at odds. Pundits tell us that the tension and paranoia between the parties has never been this intense. Even if this is an exaggeration, it nevertheless reflects the psychological reality of the situation. That is, there is no question that people feel this tension and bitterness in ways that they didn’t in earlier times in their lives. (At least liberals feel it; the “silent majority” of conservatives probably felt it more in the 1960s and 1970s.)
What is really going on here? In my opinion, we are experiencing a collapse of the covenant between mother and father as represented in the previous maternal/paternal two-party system. It is as if we are children living in a home where mother and father no longer get along, and are bickering constantly. In fact, that is probably putting it too mildly, because the current situation has gone beyond mere arguing, to the point that the masculine and feminine spheres are no longer communicating at all and are going through a very messy and acrimonious divorce. Both sides are “lawyered up” and ready to go for the throat.
I believe we may trace this divorce to the 1960s, when mother government started to become so all powerful that there was almost no role for father. Of course, this began to change in the 1980s, when father began reasserting himself because of the cultural, political and economic chaos that ensued, but by then, something else had happened. That is, the age old distinctions between mother and father and adult and child had begun to attenuate. For example, the feminist movement of the 1960s and '70s had very little to do with honoring femininity, but generally degraded and devalued it. It largely became a vehicle for the expression of female envy, giving angry and maladjusted women license to imitate the men they envied. After all, few women are less feminine than the typical NOW activist. Nor are they masculine, however. A woman cannot actually become a man, but can only become a monstrous blending of male and female.
Importantly, this is not to suggest that a woman cannot develop her masculine side or a man his feminine side. What we are talking about is a complete nullification of the differences, a kind of magical, self-imposed blindness, so that the differences are blended (because they are not acknowledged). As feminists used to say, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
The other main psychological mutation that occurred beginning with the 1960s was the eradication of the differences between adult and child. Up until then, there was a clear difference between the spheres of adult and child, and everyone knew it. When I was growing up in the '60s, I had my interests and my parents had theirs, and there was very little intersection between the two -- for example, baseball with my father. But we dressed differently, listened to different kinds of music, enjoyed different activities, read different literature, liked different movies, etc.
But that has all changed now. Here again it is critical to point out that there is nothing at all wrong with an adult maintaining contact with the child part of himself. In fact, doing so is vital for creativity, spontaneity and play. Again, as in the blending of male and female, the problem arises when the differences between adult and child are obliterated, which creates a hybrid monster that is neither adult nor child but both at the same time. This affects both adults and children, for our society has become a plague of adult children and childish adults -- that is, prematurely sexualized children who, at the same time, are burdened with all kinds of inappropriate concerns about college and career, and childish adults who psychologically do not grow beyond the age of 21 or so, and never enter the realm of the truly adult. (An excellent book that discusses this phenomenon in detail is Neil Postman’s The Disappearance of Childhood.
As a result, what our two-party political system has now come down to is a battle between the “blenders” and the “separators.” Nothing bothers the blenders more than adult males such as Ronald Reagan, George Bush, or John Roberts -- remember Diane Feinstein, who couldn't vote for Roberts for supreme court justice because she wanted to know how he felt as a man? In short, she wanted him to be more of a male-female hybrid, like herself and her constituents. Simply applying the rule of law is too masculine. We need some female “wiggle room” in the constitution. As Dennis Prager has observed, the problem with this kind of feminized thinking is that it is perfectly appropriate in the micro realm, but only becomes inappropriate and dysfunctional when applied to the macro.
The modern conservative movement is not just trying to preserve the traditional male element, but the traditional separation of the various spheres in general -- civilized vs. barbaric, animal vs, human, adult vs. child -- while the Democratic party is the party of mannish women (e.g., Hillary Clinton, Gloria Allred), feminized men (e.g., Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, John Edwards), adult children (Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Bill Maher, et al), rank sexual confusion ("transgendered, queer, 'questioning,' intersexed, curious," etc) and even animal humans (PETA members who believe that killing six million chickens is morally indistinguishable from murdering six million Jews, radical environmentalists, etc.). And it is almost impossible to engage in rational debate with the adult child, who has the cynicism of a world-weary grown up but the wisdom of a child, or with the male-female hybrid, who possesses an emotionalized reason that is easily hijacked by the passions. This is not so much a disagreement between the content of thought as its very form.
Ultimately it is a revolt against Father, not just on earth, but in “heaven,” that is, the Father who created all these annoying separations to begin with, and who reminds us of our own lack of omnipotence. It's the same existential whine in a new battle. For the sad reality is that a woman cannot actually be a man and an adult cannot actually be a child without disfiguring their humanity. But this is another realm that the left would like to obliterate -- the separation between the divine and human, which may, come to think of it, be the ultimate source of this loud and messy political divorce we are all going through. Perhaps it is unwise to marry outside your faith after all.