Sunday, December 18, 2005

Paranoia Runs Deeper Than I Thought

I don't spend a great deal of time trolling around the liberal side of the liberal media, since I find that the MSM provides more than enough material that defies rational analysis and is suitable for putting on the couch. But today I went searching for some material for tomorrow's post, so I lifted a couple of left-wing cyber-rocks to see what I could see, and the magnitude of the psychopathology was quite shocking.

And I don't hesitate one second to call it psychopathology, any more than I would hesitate to call racism or any other kind of hate-filled paranoia a form of psychopathology. Among other things, such beliefs are fixed and unalterable. They are not prehensions of reality, but projections upon reality. They are not about trying to understand the world, but about managing the disturbing content of one's own psyche. And they are always accompanied by a cluster of defenses centering around smugness, contempt, triumph and control--again, not toward the external world, but toward one's projections onto the external world. These projections reveal nothing about the world, but much about the minds of those who do the projecting.

This one is by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jane Smiley, who, in classic paranoid fashion, suddenly had an all-explaining "revelation" that makes sense of her frightening world. That's right: it turns out that President Bush is not a dry drunk, not a drunk-drunk, not a narcissist, not a madman, and not even an idiot! No! His countless mistakes--which are contemptuously and peremptorily dismissed as mistakes--are all intentional! They're all part of a big design, a master plan to destroy the country!

As she warms to her conspiracy theory, she feverishly contemplates all the quote-unquote mistakes that the Bush administration has supposedly made such as,

"1. Hobbling the government with debt by combining an expensive, prolonged war with perennial rounds of tax cuts.

2. Destroying the bureaucracy by making it impossible for neutral, expert, or objective bureaucrats to keep their jobs, replacing them with incompetents.

3. Destroying the integrity of the election system, state by state, beginning with Florida and Ohio.

4. Defanging the media by paying fake reporters, co-opting members of the MSM (why did the New York Times refrain from publishing stories unfavorable to the Bush administration before the 2004 election?)

5. Destroying the middle class by changing the bankruptcy laws and the tax laws.

6. Destroying the National Guard and the Army by deploying them over and over in a futile war, while at the same time failing to provide them with armor and equipment.

7. Precipitating Iraq into a civil war by invading it.

8. Accelerating the effects of global warming by putting roadblocks in the way of mitigating its effects.

9. Denying healthcare and prescription medication to an increasing number of Americans, most specifically by ramming the prescription drug legislation through Congress, but also by manipulating Medicare and Medicaid so that fewer and fewer citizens are covered.

10. Encouraging the people in the rest of the world to associate the US with torture, military incursion, and fear, by a preemptive attack on a sovereign nation, by vociferously maintaining the right of the US to do whatever it wants whenever it wants, and by refusing to accept international laws."

Ah ha! It all makes sense! Bush wants to destroy the government, dismantle the bureaucracy, ruin the electoral system, bring the media to its knees, lay waste to the middle class, wreck the military, create a civil war in Iraq, devastate the environment, make people get sick and die, and cause the world to hate us!

Don't you see?! It all a big conspiracy! Even the New York Times is in on it!

Smiley knowingly asks, "How else are we going to interpret the satisfaction the President continually expresses in the results of his policies so far?" How else, I ask you? Hmm?

You see, "When the government has been shrunk to nothing and drowned in the bathtub, the citizenry will be entirely powerless--that is the real goal, not an unintended consequence."

(Now panting and perspiring): Yes, yes! "The outcome of such policies will be a dictatorship or a tyranny.... Bush is about enhancing the power of himself and his cronies and dismantling any countervailing entity. The Bushies are not shy about acting on their craving for power or about talking about it.... [T]he ruthless drive for power of Bush and his cronies is really not about ideas, and in fact views ideas as a kind of trash, even, according to witnesses, the ideas expressed in the Constitution."

Smiley is not being polemical or metaphorical, much less hysterical. No people, this is REAL: "Do they actually plan to disenfranchise everyone but their reliable base? Well, yes they do.... If they have control of the electronic voting machines, they can. Do they actually plan for their associates and cronies to skim off vast quantities of the taxpayers’ money? Well, yes they do.... Do they actually plan to let New Orleans, that blue spot in a red state, slip away? Looks like it. Do they actually plan to destroy the middle class? They are making good progress--poverty was up twelve percent last year, and the “booming economy” is strangely low on job growth... "

There is simply no way this kind of thinking can be taken at face value. I am actually somewhat hesitant to psychoanalyze those with whom I disagree, as it's too easy to simply use that as a way to avoid debate. But what's to debate here? You can't argue with such a person. It would be idiotic. This kind of thinking demands psychoanalytic interpretation. It cannot be explained in any other way.

It is also amazing to me that the left routinely dismisses conservative thought as "simplistic." What could be more simplistic than an all-encompassing, overarching paranoid theory that explains everything?

What is perhaps even more disturbing is all of the enthusiastic agreement in the posts that follow Smiley's piece. Paranoia on the left runs much deeper than even I had thought. They fervently, and apparently routinely, believe things that would have to possess much more reality and logic to even be considered implausible.


Anonymous said...

Well, I am surprised that you just now have realized just how "out in left field" the Left actually is.

I would point out that to one degree or another the world view of the Left is the dominant view of the political, social and cultural elites of what we call "the Western World." These people have been "guiding" us for decades. What do you have to say about that?

These are people that teach our young make our "Art" and have had their mitts on the "atomic football." No matter how bizaare might be their goals, they pursue them quite rationally and with the zeal of Jesuits.

How can one account for all of this?

Have you considered that what you see is in some manner the embrace of evil, and I do not mean some sort of "New Age" notion of evil as the absense of good, or some sort of "mental imbalance" or "pathology."

Rather, I suggest that here we have a case of the old fashioned, supernatural sort.

While I enjoy your vision of the spirit, I must say that you seem a tad pollyannyish on the subject of evil. There is such a thing, you know. It is not a "pathology."

What say you to this?

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I do believe in ontological evil. But if you begin to describe those with whom you disagree as "evil," then you will succeed only in removing yourself from relevance. You can be "dead right," you know, as when you insist on the right of way while driving, only to have your car totalled by the opposing traffic.

D. Vision said...

Conservative philosophy and capitalism have kicked the hell out of liberals for the past three decades. The problem is the creep of government and leftist ideology that doesn't have to succeed to expand; that doesn't need to oppose conservative thought on its own ground (namely reason), but instead just spreads under the radar like an ink stain.

I see the denial, envy, displacement and other psychopathological defense mechanisms as a response to the rising success of conservatism, both the popular variety (the Republican party) and the ideological variety (libertarianism, objectivism, neo-conservativism).

Conservatives of all stripes need to trap liberals in their pathology, pin them down, and defeat them; repeatedly.

All in all, maybe their nuttiness is really a sign of dying off.

I don't see their hysterics towards Bush accomplishing much; at most it could grant them temporary razor-thin control in Congress, but I don't think it will amount to more than a blip on the radar screen.

Anonymous said...

Well, there comes a point where if one does not call one's enemies by their true names,one cannot defeat them.

I could not disagree more with the notion that to do so somehow renders one "irrelevant." If fact, I would suggest that the results are quite the oppposite of what you suggest.

It is not merely an issue of rhetoric or language - evil is not defeated by words alone. I would think that you of all people would understand this.

This is a deep spiritual problem, the central spiritual problem of the West, and it can be neither agrued or wished away.

We are running out of time.

There may be a local triumph of "conservativism" (what ever that might be,) but the issues at hand go far beyond notions of economics, political governance or personal responisbility, no matter how true, valid and reasonable these notions may be.

The fate of the human spirit seems to be at issue in our time.

Melodramtic? Perhaps. But consider this: An ascendant Asia that is "Conservative and Capitalist" in the Asian sense, but yet still a satrapry and beehive of the spirit will not advance man, and if such an order destroys the West in the process it will in fact be a grievious set back, a throwing off of centuries of advance.

Capitalism is an economic technique - one that optimizes resource allocation with reasonable controla and rewards - it is neither a theology or philosophy. It does not address the higher needs of man. The same is true to a degree of "conservativism" in both its fiscal and social senses. American conservativsim presumes that the individual resides in our western civilisation, and has as loci and nexi for its prime tenants in the large mesh of Judeo-Christian religious, social and cultural forms, structures and truths.(I am an arch capitalist and arch-conservative, BTW.)

This is one of the reasons that in the broader world, socialist often wins the porpoaganda battle, for socialism is not a technique, it is a religion.

To the other poster that imagines that the world is turning toward American conservatism, I suggest he travel a bit more ofr this is not really the case. America herself is but a very few votes away from EU style socialism.

That a mediocrity and obvous traitor like Kerry could come so close to beating GWB does not bode well for the future of this great nation.

No, these folks are not going away any time soon, particularly when the rest of us imagine that the fight is merely one of dissauding them.

The Christian will say that the sinner must be seperated from the eveil and redeemed. SO be it. But their agenda must at all cost be defeated.

D. Vision said...


I did not mean to imply that American-style capitalism or conservatism is making inroads in the rest of the world; it mostly is not. Most of Europe is wallowing in the ennui of socialism without understanding why, flummoxed that the United States can continue to charge on in technology. I think frankly that most of the world expects the US to implode at any second, somehow harboring the belief and hope that America's super-status is founded on equal shakiness as that of the USSR.

South America is almost universally confused about why bad things just keep happening and the people cannot manage to straighten things out. They've been on cycles of violence and looting on a large scale since the popular delusion of socialism has set in.

I am not so much concerned about America's ability to continue innovating and leading the world; what I am most worried about is the world's embrace of death which would throw a million Lilliputian ropes to suck the lifeblood out of us. America is, in many ways, the last bastion of the conservative ideals, the only remaining leading light, and the world either wants us destroyed, humiliated, or wants us to continue being their beast of burden.

I keep thinking of that line in "Gattaca" where Vincent says to his brother as they swim out to sea. The vast superiority of the younger's genetic engineering is humbled by Vincent's spirit:

"You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton: I never saved anything for the swim back."

Simon Kenton said...

The novelist, financial planner, firearms instructor, pilot, and race-car-driver wannabe John Ross is a cousin of Jane Smiley. Ross is a good example of the plain style and plain sense. In general see

esp the recent column on Maureen Dowd. For his comments on Jane and her famous column on the invincible ignorance of the red states, see

It sounds as if she's gotten more desperately loony since the election.