Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why Liberals Are So Strong On Defense

Don't look at me like that. They are strong on defense. Against reality. They're relentless. They never stop assaulting it. Denial, projection, splitting, contempt -- their arsenal is formidable.

Continuing with yesterday's post, I'm sure that some of this sounds pedantic, but it really isn't. Klein's ideas are actually quite useful and immediately applicable -- in my opinion, because they are truly universal, as universal as, say, anabolism and catabolism -- or the breakdown and buildup of bodily tissue. You can't have one without the other, nor can you have new knowledge without breaking down what you already know.

In order to be found you must be lost, so the bewilderness adventure is every bit as important as your well-lit little encampment in the clearing. But if you lose your sense of the infinite (vertical) frontier, you might as well cash in your humanness right now, because your adventure is over. We are always (or should be) fruitfully engaged with the infinite and the eternal, for which religion is here to remind us.

In contrast to the paranoid-schizoid (heretofore PS) position (discussed yesterday), in the depressive position (D), the infant gradually integrates experience into a coherent, central self which is able to distinguish fantasy from reality, interior from exterior, self from not-self. You might think that this is an unproblematic achievement, but you would be quite wrong. We all carry remnants of the paranoid-schizoid position, some much more so than others. Again, the problem is not so much the PS itself, but its separation from D. It is actually a dialectic, which is why Bion symbolized it as PS<-->D, which you might think of as dispersal and integration.

In my book I refer to the enduring, unmetabolized or "crystalized" PS remnants as “mind parasites." Not only do they operate outside awareness, but they have a logic all their own.

As an example of how PS<-->D can work on a macro scale, in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung wrote that after his break from Freud in 1913, "a period of inner uncertainty began for me. It would be no exaggeration to call it a state of disorientation. I felt totally suspended in mid-air, for I had not yet found my own footing." Interestingly, this coincided with the onset of the war, which was experienced as a sort of psychotic breakdown of the world's order. Jung could not distinguish between his internal experience and the world situation:

"The pressure I had felt in me seemed to be moving outward, as though there were something in the air. The atmosphere actually seemed to me darker than it had been. It was as if the sense of oppression no longer sprang exclusively from a psychic situation, but from concrete reality. This feeling grew more and more intense."

Hmm, this is getting interesting. What happened next? "In October, while I was alone on a journey, I was suddenly seized by an overpowering vision: I saw a monstrous flood covering all of the northern and low-lying lands between the North Sea and the Alps.... I realized that a frightful catastrophe was in progress. I saw the mighty yellow waves, the floating rubble of civilization, and the drowned bodies of uncounted thousands. Then the whole sea turned to blood. This vision lasted about one hour. I was perplexed and nauseated."

Soon he was plunged into an "incessant stream of fantasies" that made it difficult for him to function. "Had I left those images hidden in the emotions, I might have been torn to pieces by them. There is a chance that I might have succeeded in splitting them off; but in that case I would have inexorably fallen into a neurosis and and so been ultimately destroyed by them anyhow."

More on Jung's psychotic break in a later post. For our purposes, the point is that he did not defend himself against the unconscious, but fully plunged into it in an ultimately creative and healing way. (Although there are those who plausibly argue that Jung was actually unsuccessful in his psychic reintegration and that he remained crazy, which I won't get into here.)

Now, a "borderline" individual engages in severe splitting between good and bad, and has difficulty distinguishing between "inside" and "outside." As such, if you disappoint or frustrate them, they can suddenly perceive you as all bad (which they have projected into you), completely forgetting your many positive traits and the many happy experiences they have had with you. It is as if these experiences never happened, and the “good you” no longer exists, because it has been banished to some black hole of the unconscious (this process should not be confused with garden-variety PMS).

Likewise, a narcissistic individual only has use for others so long as they serve as a mirror for their primitive, paranoid-schizoid grandiosity. As soon as you fail to idealize them, they will react with anger or contempt in order to maintain their illusion of greatness. They will flush you from their life like a bad object. In order to protect themselves from the experience of shame, the narcissist preempts it with contempt. (You will have noticed that Obama's contempt is out of control, which is a testimony to his narcissistic "britlleness" and unconscious insecurity. It is only a matter of time before he has no one left to toss under the psychic bus.)

More generally, the manic defenses are those psychic defenses that prevent movement from the paranoid-schizoid to the depressive position, and include contempt, triumph, control, and idealization. Basically, you can think of these defenses as coming into play when reality threatens to impinge upon fantasy. In fact, these defenses ultimately consist of attacks on a reality the individual has already dimly perceived but does not wish to consciously entertain.

(Again, notice how much contempt the liberal media and politicians have for the people who voted for Scott Brown; it's really quite breathtaking, but it certainly gives the lie to the kooky idea that liberals are "for the little guy." In reality, they are for the little guy so long as he is a contemptuous loser who can't get through life without his liberal overlords. Otherwise, the little guy is a contemptible racist redneck Bible-thumpin', cousin-humpin,' rifle-pumpin', tea-dumpin', country bumpkin.)

At the same time, the manic defenses prevent recognition all of the implications of the unconsciously perceived reality, which is obviously a huge impediment to fruitful and generative thought. It explains why the left does not profit from experience, and why they continue proposing irrational and utopian ideas and policies that have already failed and will surely fail again. But only by arresting thought in this way can they keep their Audaciously manic Hopes alive. (Thomas Sowell calls this the inability to "think beyond stage one," which in practical terms comes down to failing to appreciate the Law of Unintended Consequences.)

In the past we have discussed deMause's concept of the “group fantasy.” In my view, the anti-theology of secular leftism is very much rooted in the paranoid-schizoid position, whereas the classical liberalism embodied in the conservative intellectual movement is much more reflective of the depressive position. Here, I hope it should go without saying that I am not primarily referring to individuals, as there are obviously many immature conservatives and mature liberals. Rather, I am specifically discussing the group dynamic.

If I am correct, then we will see in conservatism a much more sober and realistic assessment of mankind. As I have mentioned before, I am of the view that conservatism is as much an inclination, temperament, or “cast of mind” as it is any set doctrine. In fact, the doctrines follow from the temperament -- or, you might say, the depressive position -- rather than vice versa. This would explain why normal people generally become more conservative as they mature and grow wiser, whereas leftism mostly appeals to the young or to the permanently immature of academia and Hollywood.

Awhile back, I wrote a post which summarized the main tenets of conservatism and liberalism. Let’s review them and see how they line up in terms of the paranoid-schizoid vs. depressive positions. I think they basically speak for themselves.

Russell Kirk summarized the six canons of conservative thought as

1. Belief in a transcendent order; and that most political problems are moral problems resulting from bad values. (To cite an obvious example, if dysfunctional minority groups adopted the values of successful minority groups, such as Asian American values, they would be just as successful.)

2. Appreciation of the ineffable mystery of existence, and with it, opposition to the tedious uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of of most radical systems.

3. An understanding that liberty and equality are contradictory aims; a belief that there are distinctions between men and that classes will emerge naturally and spontaneously in a free society. “If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum.”

4. A belief that property and freedom are intimately linked. “Economic leveling... is not economic progress.”

5. Distrust of radical schemes by liberal intellectuals “who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs” that simply mask the intellectual’s lust for power.

6. Recognition that change and reform are not synonymous, and that “prudent change is the means of social preservation.” (Again, note the balance between PS and D; conservatives are all for change, just not indiscriminate destruction of the existing order in exchange for a fanciful utopia.)

In contrast, contemporary left-liberalism has entirely different assumptions and attacks the existing social order on the following grounds:

1. “The perfectibility of man”; the belief that education, environment or legislation “can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity towards violence and sin.”

2. Contempt for tradition. “Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.”

3. Political leveling: “Order and privilege are condemned,” accompanied by “an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.”

4. Economic leveling: “The ancient rights of property... are suspect to almost all radicals.”

The first six postulates are true or revolve around truth; the second four are false or rooted in falsehood. But worse than that, the latter are manic defenses against the sobering reality of the former. To put it another way, to believe in the latter four is to remain a child forever in the pneumacosmic scheme of things.

32 Comments:

Blogger Warren said...

>> normal people generally become more conservative as they mature and grow wiser, whereas leftism mostly appeals to the young or to the permanently immature

Similarly, I've often been struck by the fact that genuine Christian conversions usually happen to a person in early middle age - whereas atheist conversions generally happen in early adolescence.

1/21/2010 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> Bible-thumpin', cousin-humpin,' rifle-pumpin', tea-dumpin', hillbilly bumpkin

Somebody really should set that to music...

1/21/2010 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Yeah, could be Dupree's theme song...

1/21/2010 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Anyone else hear that Obama was photographed with the White House "gatecrasher" couple in 2005, and that the male is/was a member of the American Task Force on Palestine, a group affiliated with Hamas?

Anyone the least surprised by this?

Frankly I find it hard to really blame Obama for much. He just is what he is. You don't "blame" a rattlesnake for biting you. You DO blame the park rangers (i.e., the MSM) if they repeatedly tell people that the rattlesnake is in fact a harmless gopher. The MSM basically misled Americans into electing this guy -- a guy with connections into the darkest regions which seem to know no limit.

1/21/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of music, some folk might find this album interesting. (Not to be confused with the Crowded House concert by the same name; this is a whole nother album)

Back to the topic, House of Eratosthenes made a similar point this morning:

"This is the trouble: Liberals never, ever learn anything because they never, ever lose elections. When they win, of course The People Have Spoken — when they lose, it must have been Diebold tampering with the machines. Fear. Bigotry. Latent traces of racism. Angry voters having a temper tantrum."

Heads I win, tails you lose...

1/21/2010 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Gagdad Bob wrote: "In order to be found you must be lost"

So true. And theologically speaking, once you are "lost" you don't have the power to do yourself any good.

"Therefore I have said to you that none can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father." ~ Jesus "From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more." John 6:65-66

1/21/2010 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

FYI, Air America finally tanks ... I suppose it's not over 'til it's over, but it looks pretty final from here.

1/21/2010 02:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

This is going to double Olbermann's audience. Unless they don't get cable in the mental hospital.

1/21/2010 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"The Democrats have no natural majority because they have no fundamental principles -- at least none that they are willing to state out loud. They are like a drunken vagrant who emerges from the alley to cause havoc every few years. They are the perpetual toothache of American politics." Ann Coulter

Heh, heh.

1/21/2010 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I've said this before but it bears repeating; not much of what GDB writes about the purported evils of leftism can be observed in our culture.

Our country currently functions pretty darn well, thank you, a fact that must be galling to rabble-rousers like (fill in the blank).

Will you sissys please calm down and stop touting your so-called values and get down to proposing policy?

No I guess you won't be doing that.

Any of you blessed raccoons currently running for or holding public office?

No?

Well WHY THE BLEEP NOT?

Don't you wise guys get it? Put up or....

Sorry to be so nasty. It's my job.

1/21/2010 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Your trolls are really getting bossy now, Bob.

1/21/2010 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Projection: the left is so focused on superficial differences (skin color, sex, etc.) to the exclusion of any principles, that they assume everyone else is too.

1/21/2010 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Heh, if I ran for office, I'd probably be excoriated by these anonymii as a Sarah Palin clone.

1/21/2010 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

"I was suddenly seized by an overpowering vision: I saw a monstrous flood covering all of the northern and low-lying lands between the North Sea and the Alps.... I realized that a frightful catastrophe was in progress. I saw the mighty yellow waves, the floating rubble of civilization, and the drowned bodies of uncounted thousands. Then the whole sea turned to blood. This vision lasted about one hour. I was perplexed and nauseated."

I would have sworn that I had read this as Al Gore's apocolyptic vision from 'Earth In The Balance'.

1/21/2010 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Also, the rifle-pumpers really need to upgrade with at least one autoloader.

1/21/2010 05:53:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Or was it rifle-humpers?

1/21/2010 05:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The projection in these posts is quite breathtaking. Ie:

Now, a "borderline" individual engages in severe splitting between good and bad, and has difficulty distinguishing between "inside" and "outside." As such, if you disappoint or frustrate them, they can suddenly perceive you as all bad...

This in the midst of a post splitting the human race into the all-bad leftists and the supposedly superior conservatives. And the next phrase is about how leftists project. OooooKay.

Here's my theory: Bob obviously has no insight into how leftists actually think, other than that which he draws from his own mentality and experience. Everything he says about leftists is based on his earlier leftist self, which he has supposedly abandonded. But in fact people don't really change fundamentally, and all the mental tropes of the leftist that he's trying to escape have been dragged into his new persona. Naturally this is infuriating and it results in ever-increasing vitriolic hatred of the left, which just won't go away.

People like you who have political conversion experiences where they swing from one extreme to another are not serious thinkers, but cultists. Conservatism will probably disappoint you at some point, and you'll have to find something else.

1/21/2010 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Nice theory, anon. But today's leftist theory of the day goes to Hugo Chavez Mouthpiece Says U.S. Hit Haiti With 'Earthquake Weapon'.

1/21/2010 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Scott B said...

Anon. 04:07,

With all due respect, what's a clueless jackass such as yourself know about what any of us here is doing?

1/21/2010 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Eeeevil said...

"Nice theory, anon. But today's leftist theory of the day goes to Hugo Chavez Mouthpiece Says U.S. Hit Haiti With 'Earthquake Weapon'"

Uh, that was me.
Fork over my one meeliun dollars.


RR

1/21/2010 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I have a serious policy proposal: "Get off my lawn!"

The problem with leftists is that they always think they need a government policy to fix what's wrong. Which is really another way of saying that Paul needs the mailed fist of government to bully Peter into paying for Paul's self-indulgence.


Otherwise, the little guy is a contemptible racist redneck Bible-thumpin', cousin-humpin,' rifle-pumpin', tea-dumpin', country bumpkin. -- I guess if I start selling t-shirts with this on it, I'll have to give Bob a cut. I could just set up on any Wal-Mart parking lot within a 200-mile radius of Bentonville.

1/21/2010 07:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Uh, me said...

Now yer a playin my song!

Cep fer that cousin part...ick.


"bougly" - een wv's a feelin it!

1/21/2010 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Again, notice how much contempt the liberal media and politicians have for the people who voted for Scott Brown; it's really quite breathtaking, but it certainly gives the lie to the kooky idea that liberals are "for the little guy." In reality, they are for the little guy so long as he is a contemptuous loser who can't get through life without his liberal overlords. Otherwise, the little guy is a contemptible racist redneck Bible-thumpin', cousin-humpin,' rifle-pumpin', tea-dumpin', country bumpkin."

Well... I suppose it's ok to be that even handed, their having just been defeated and all... ok.

;-)

1/21/2010 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"To put it another way, to believe in the latter four is to remain a child forever in the pneumacosmic scheme of things."

And perpetually surprised and upset over getting a spanking from reality.

1/21/2010 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said said "Well I've said this before but it bears repeating..."

Ahh! Stop it already! You had me at "Well I've"!

Hoot!

ahh ha... "I've"... lol.

1/21/2010 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"I'd like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow-white turtle doves" Perhaps we should just offer Mr. Chavez a Coke and a smile...

1/21/2010 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie, House of Eratosthenes's post title nails it so darn well, "They Already Know What They Want to Know"... can't you can just hear the aninnies pinheads a poppin'?

(Oh... come on orthoganinnie... show us!)

;-)

1/21/2010 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Erasmus said...

Bob,

I think Anon. above is on to something, though he comes across too harshly....I like to read your blog as I do think you are a serious thinker - we have much in common, not only am I a psychologist (even graduating from the same school), but like you an ex-leftist and convert back to Christianity after wandering in the wilderness of atheism for some years...I've read your early psychohistorical analyses and it is striking the similarity with which you savaged and attacked your opponents then; at one point using Kleinianism to savage Buckley and Limbaugh (I remember, even as a leftist, being astounded at how scathingly you reduced their thought to psychopathology), and how you do the same thing now, slamming over and over Obama and the cabal of evil leftists, people who are not taken seriously as flawed human beings....if you take Kirk's 4 postulates of leftism; keep in mind that it is all in how you interpret and apply them: "perfectibility" of man is valid as a Lockean-Jeffersonian-Painian value; rejection of tradition is also often necessary, and also implicit in the founders; "political leveling" as rejection of aristocracy and elitism is a good thing if combined with freedom; "economic leveling" as encouraging a society without a vast cleavage between the very rich and the very poor is a worthy goal....so instead of being on an intellectual vendetta against leftism, I would love to see your thinking stay more in the depressive position with less splitting of the world into all good and all evil. But Anon.#1, let's set a tone here of less vitriol and more real dialogue....

1/21/2010 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Dude. Grow a pair.

1/21/2010 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

erazmess said "...with less splitting of the world into all good and all evil. But Anon.#1, let's set a tone here of less vitriol and more real dialogue..."

Uh huh. I'll leave your criticisms of Gagdad for him or Dupree if they want to bother, but your comments which touch on the rest of humanity, I'd like to take a swing at.

"keep in mind that it is all in how you interpret and apply them: "perfectibility" of man is valid as a Lockean-Jeffersonian-Painian value;"
And... Locke, Jefferson and Paine were free from error? Much as I like them (though in steeply descending order), they had their errors. Much was almost inevitable due to the pioneering position of Locke, and several due to his empiricism - again also having much to do with his status as a pioneer, some of his theories, shorn of his common sense, would lead you right up to Hume's house of skepticism, and his idea that man in a "State of Nature" seemed to assume that in the bush you'd happen across men of the stature of English gentlemen wandering into each others company and remarking "I say ol' chap, care to recognize each other's property rights and have a spot o' tea?"... but his good ideas so outweigh his unmined ones, it's not too fair to hold against them. And in the context of what Locke had to say, to say that he felt man was actually "perfectible" in the sense that a creature like Rousseau meant it... that's not playing fair.

Jefferson for all his impressive stature, had a strong streak of rationalism through him that often approached the Rouseauian, and though he was recklessly likely to trust things to 'the people' not even he believed that man was perfectible... ever improvable, yes, but nowhere near the same thing. As for Paine, valuable, timely and stirring though his pamphlets were, as far as political theory, they were shallow and naïve... Pericles had a deeper understanding of the potential pitfalls of democracy than Paine did - and he came within a hairs breadth of losing his head to Frenchified democratic notions of Liberté, égalité, fraternité 's teleprompter: The Terror's Guillotine. See Burkes replies to him for more.

Men can be improved, through their own actions, provided their choices and learned habits are consistent with that aim, but 'perfectibility' is a deterministic notion that excludes free will and any worthwhile understanding of freedom, and it is an invalid concept in regards to Man.

(annoying break)

1/21/2010 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

"... rejection of tradition is also often necessary, and also implicit in the founders..."
Well... yes, assuming the tradition is not only inappropriate, but wrong (Burka's come to mind), but as regards the Founders, I'm not sure what you have in mind in particular, but as is typically alleged to them, they were not rebelling against tradition, but to King George III's innovations and abuses against their traditional rights as Englishmen.

""political leveling" as rejection of aristocracy and elitism is a good thing if combined with freedom"
Leveling in general can be denounced and dismissed out of hand, as it by definition dismisses and discards conceptual hierarchies - vital to human understanding and practice. Other than through guilt by associated evils (aristocrats having improper power over 'lower classes' and their property - itself a violation of Rights), I'd be interested in any actual example you might have that you'd think valid.

""economic leveling" as encouraging a society without a vast cleavage between the very rich and the very poor is a worthy goal"
Although it is easy to sentimentally portray it as such, if you are discussing such a thing in a society such as ours where there is (supposed to be) property rights and law, then it is an unworthy goal, and indeed a despicable goal, intent on nothing but thievery justified by a majority of thugs voting to ignore their own criminality. See the French Revolution for one example of how it likely ends. Lenin for another. Mao's another good example... or Pol Pot... or....

"....so instead of being on an intellectual vendetta against leftism, I would love to see"
I'd love to see you wiping the rose colored syrup off of your glasses and try seeing things as they are, not as it feels so swell to romanticize them as being.

1/21/2010 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Generally speaking, a gradual turning toward conservatism is part of the natural, healthy development of a human being that is allotted his full number of years. Unfortunately some become famous while they are in a less conservative stage, and become locked in by the pervasive public record of their position.

People who just go on with their lives tend to reject liberal ideas after observing the next generation.

1/22/2010 05:21:00 AM  

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