Saturday, December 24, 2005

Sifting Through the Ruins of Broken Attachment

Reader Bryan has asked an excellent question about yesterday's post on the psychopathology of dailykos.

First, he observes that "This is a very interesting idea on what subconsciously motivates our current young leftists, and it makes intuitive sense to me because it reminded me of some encounters that I have had with a leftist friend. Observing how certain political issues would cause her to fly into a rage, I began to suspect that what she was really angry about was her unhappy childhood and that being perpetually angry about politics was a way of not facing her grief and anger toward her parents."

He goes on:

"However, one thing about this idea confuses me. Why is it that leftists complete the gestalt of 'abandoning parent' only with Republican leaders and not with Democratic leaders? Why, for instance, was it impossible to project the imago (if that is the correct term; forgive again my amateurishness) of the abandoning parent onto President Clinton?"

That is a very fair question, with no easy answer. I am actually reluctant to use psychology to simply pathologize those with whom I disagree, but in this case, how can you not? Kos acknowledges up front that he is not dealing in the realm of argument or ideas. Therefore, you cannot engage him on that level. As such, you really have only two choices--either descend to his primitive level of mid-brain noise, or "go meta" on him, as I have done.

I would never do this with someone posing a substantive argument or challenge--it would be insulting and condescending to do so. But some modern psychoanalysts, in particular W. R. Bion, have done extremely important work on what might be called "epistemological pathologies" of the mind. In many people, the thinking mind more or less fails to develop, and instead becomes an organ for the discharge and projection of primitive emotional elements (Bion called them "beta elements"). For those people it is not an act of condescension but an act of empathy to meet them "where they live," so to speak. This is an important lesson I learned early in my training.

If you are remotely sensitive, you can actually feel it when primitive elements are being projected into you. Obviously not all people on the left do this, but there are certain more primitive "psychoclasses" on the left that are quite prone to this type of aggressive projection--really, it's more of an expulsion and invasion of beta elements. It emanates from a psychotic (developmentally early) part of the mind, and when you are being used as a receptacle for someone's beta elements, it is difficult to keep your cool.

For one thing, one of the purposes of the projections is to "attack the links" in your own mind. Again, this is an idea developed by Bion; it may sound abstract or esoteric, but it is actually based on sound observation of what transpires when you are being projected into. You may subjectively experience a dismantling of your own cognitive structure, and be left with a sort of empty confusion, not quite knowing how to respond.

I would place someone like Randi Rhodes of Air America into the same category as the Kos contingent. Yesterday I decided to tune in and listen for the "beta elements," that is, projected bits of undigested anger and rage. I only listened for about ten minutes, because the remainder of her program was pre-empted by a Clippers basketball game. But in just those ten minutes I was overwhelmed with material, and there were more beta elements than I could even transcribe: Conservatives don't believe in freedom, but want to impose a theocracy. Conservatives don't really want to overturn Roe vs. Wade because it will threaten their fundraising. Bush wants to spread religious fundamentalism so that the rapture will come sooner. Jerry Falwell has a policy of never being alone in the same room with a woman other than his wife, and Republicans secretly wish to put this policy into law. Republicans want to make it against the law to be an atheist. Belief in intelligent design is code for imposing a Taliban theocracy.

It went on and on and on. With all due respect, I would say that it would be foolish to engage such an individual in rational debate. This is a cognitive pathology. But where is it coming from? Frankly, I don't know. However, within about two sessions on the couch, I believe I'd have a pretty good idea. Again, forget about the content of her thought, as objectionable as it may be. As a psychologist, I am actually more interested in the form of her thought, especially at this primitive level. In a neurotic one is more concerned with the content, but here we are dealing with damaged psychological structure, a very different thing. (One other fascinating observation by Bion is that these individuals tend to convert epistemological problems into moral problems, thus accounting for the stridently moralistic tone of contemporary liberals; this accords with the truism--again, a generalization--that conservatives think liberals are merely uninformed or foolish, whereas liberals think conservatives are actually evil.)

Are there people and groups on the right that do this? Undoubtedly. I'm just not plugged into those groups, nor are those groups particularly prominent on the right. I would be tempted to say that a Michael Savage falls into that category, but I'm pretty sure that what he's doing is just his "schtick." But these people on the left are true believers, plus they are normative for their group, not exceptions.

Are there generational psychopathologies, general patterns, or styles of group neurosis? I think so. In my generation, for example, the style of pathology was different. Unlike the present 18-35 group, we were probably the most indulged psychoclass in history. For example, my mother--along with so many other mothers--was a fanatical devotee of the child-centered parenting style of Dr. Spock, who was a disciple of the great psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott. Among the generational cohort of baby boomers, that indulgence led to a plethora of narcissism, entitlement, utopian fantasies, and other distinct problems. In fact, you could probably draw a distinction between the contemporary "old" and "new" left by noting the very different styles of narcissism (for you insiders, this might correspond with the Kohut vs. Kernberg models of narcissism--their models might describe different populations of narcissists, Kohut's more mature, Kernberg's more primitive).

Since the early 1970's we have, in fact, been engaging in a completely novel psychohistorical experiment with unknown cultural ramifications. Specifically, what is the effect of abandoning children to daycare very shortly after they are born, thereby disrupting the primordial attachment system bequeathed to us by evolution, the very system that ushers us into humanity? There are many provocative studies, all loudly attacked and suppressed by the feminist beta element crying machine.

But use your intuition, especially if you're enjoying the bonding experience with your infant, as I am. If it's so pleasurable for me, imagine how it feels for him. Actually, it's pretty obvious how it feels for him. It's more or less ecstatic. What are the long term effects of having this primordial joy of being alive short-circuited? What sort of worldview emerges from its ruins? Why do all of the studies show that happy people are more likely to be conservative, and vice versa?

I can't say with certainty, but I'm sure it will be an ongoing subject of future posts.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Kos Kids, Nihilism, and the Ghosts of the Nursery

Yesterday, in a post entitled A Little Reason Free From Passion, Please, Dr. Sanity reviewed the legal arguments for the NSA intercept program, writing that the courts "have unanimously held that the President has the inherent constitutional authority to order warrantless searches for purposes of gathering foreign intelligence information, which includes information about terrorist threats."

However, she adds, "Some people don't like that such a clear case can be made for the President's actions. For them, Bush is simply a liar and a fascist; and the law is completely irrelevant." For example, at dailykos, we are assured that fascism "is coming. The lure of fascism is too powerful for men like the ones currently pissing all over our Constitution." This time the targets for genocide "Probably won’t be the Jews. Maybe Arabs. Maybe gays. Maybe 'libruls.' Who the f*ck knows? It almost certainly won’t be recognizable to most people until it’s far too late."

"When it comes to the high anxiety of the Left today," notes Dr. Sanity, "they do not fear Osama Bin Laden or Abu Musab Al Zarqawi--they fear George Bush." Interestingly, the paranoid left is overwhelmed by the "eery parallels" between Hitler's Germany of the 1930's and George Bush's contemporary America. And it turns out that they are absolutely right, but in an unexpected way. She quotes Stafford Cripps, a left wing member of Parliament who warned that if Churchill became prime minister he would "introduce fascist measures and there would be no more general elections." Like our contemporary leftist paranoiacs, Cripps didn't fear Hitler, the true evil, but Churchill, who was devoted to fighting it.

Dr. Sanity also quotes Simone de Beauvoir, who didn't think that Germany was the threat, "but instead worried that the 'panic that the Right was spreading' would drag France, Britain, and the rest of Europe into war."

This got me to thinking. One of the maddening things about the left is that they never engage your argument, but always question your motives. You know the drill by now: if you are against government mandated racial discrimination, you are a racist; if you have reservations about redefining marriage, you're a homophobe; if you believe the strict scientific evidence implies an intelligent creator, you are a religious fanatic who wishes to impose a theocracy; etc, etc.

In the contemporary left, it has become gospel that the so-called "war on terror" is really just an excuse for President Bush to take away our civil liberties and impose a "fascist theocracy." Please note, this is not hyperbole--they really and truly believe this (see my post from a couple of days ago, On the Bizarro World of the Left: Krystallnacht Comes to AmeriKKKa). The left actually believes that President Bush was just waiting for a 9-11 so that he could use it as an excuse to commence the fascist takeover on 9-12.

But Dr. Sanity's diagnosis suggests the opposite: that leftists were just waiting for September 11 so that they could use it to advance their agenda on September 12. And just what is the leftist agenda? Many thinkers, such as Steven Hicks (see my review of his Explaining Postmodernism) have argued that they don't actually have one anymore. That is, they have become purely reactionary. Now that Marxism has been thoroughly discredited, the intellectual pillars upon which leftism rests no longer exist. All that remains is the hungry ghost of Marxism, which involves a radical critique of Western civilization, and an unwavering commitment to the idea that it must be defeated and even destroyed. This is why leftism is so incoherent and contradictory, not to say enraged and angry. It is not about argument but about action. To the extent that language is used, it is deployed as a blunt instrument. Since September 12, they have simply taken every opportunity to use this blunt instrument to question or attack any effort to defend us from those who wish to destroy us.

Yesterday, Washington Monthly published a timely interview with Markos Moulitsas, proprietor of dailykos, the most popular and influential Democratic blog. The interviewer--who was actually sympathetic to Moulitsas--notes that "the most salient thing about" his politics "is not where he falls on the left-right spectrum.... It's his relentless competitiveness, founded not on any particular set of political principles, but on an obsession with tactics —and in particular, with the tactics of a besieged minority, struggling for survival: stand up for your principles, stay united, and never back down from a fight." Moulitsas boasts that “I'm not ideological at all.... I'm just all about winning.”

As a typical--indeed, prototypical--leftist, he doesn't believe that conservatives have any arguments that are worth considering for even a moment. Rather, he believes that conservatives simply possess a more effective “noise machine," that is, "a coalition of coordinated advocacy and opinion media outlets that pressure the mainstream media into reporting, and repeating, GOP-friendly spin."

In other words, Moulitsas' philosophy is admittedly entirely content-free, consisting of pure emotion. It is as if he lives in the animal world. One animal brays, and he will simply bray louder and proclaim victory. “The simplest fact about American politics,” says Moulitsas, “is that Republicans have a noise machine and we don't.” Therefore, he decided that dailykos "would become the Democratic noise machine, pressing the case against the Bush administration and the Iraq war in the strongest terms possible." Even the writer of this piece observes that "Moulitsas's posts are not long or involved—and he clearly has no literary pretensions—but they are clear and consistent. Some news of the day has reinforced either the corruption and evil of Republicans, the gullible incomprehension of the media, or the timidity and incoherence of the Democrats. The site is for the true believers, not the aesthetes; its tone is harsh, impassioned, and frequently humorless.... And sometimes infantile and absurd."

Harsh. Impassioned. Humorless. Infantile. Absurd. This is exactly the impression one comes away with after dipping into the truly joyless, endarkened, and unhappy world of dailykos. But one could easily add paranoid, shrill, nihilistic, and frankly, delusional (and I use this word advisedly, in the strict clinical sense). As a psychologist, one is trained not just to listen to the content of a patient's verbal associations, but to listen with a "third ear" to the feelings they engender in you (known as "counter-transference"). If one reads dailykos (including the comments) in this way, it's really rather sad.

The tone of destructive nihilism is especially prominent, and very troubling, because it appears to be generational. "As this generation begins to move into positions of power within the progressive movement and the Democratic Party, they don't pose much of a challenge on issues or substance. So the tactical critique takes center stage. Moulitsas's sensibility suits his generation perfectly.... Moulitsas is just basically uninterested in the intellectual and philosophical debates that lie behind the daily political trench warfare. By his own admission, he just doesn't care about policy."

I won't get into all of them here, but I have a number of ideas and intuitions as to why so many members of this 18-35 generation would be so angry, cynical, nihilistic and paranoid. For example, it is difficult to imagine many of them having had happy childhoods in intact, loving families, where they weren't abandoned to daycare or riven by divorce. Theirs' is indeed a radical critique, but it has the hallmarks of that undying and unquenchable resentment that can only be rooted in the Great Lost Entitlement of Childhood. I can't see anything in it that remotely resembles the leftism that seduced me and my generational cohort, which may have been foolish and naive, but at least spoke of universal love and spiritual transcendence. How different the tone is today.

As a psychologist, I can't help thinking that George Bush is simply a stand-in for the soul-destroying "ghosts of the nursery" that result from having been bitterly disillusioned so long ago. No one is so menacing as the abandoning parent one has internalized. These shape-shifting specters of childhood haunt the landscape of the mind, causing those who harbor them to compulsively search for their symbolic representation in the external world. Better to fight them there than to realize that the omnipotent enemy is really inside one's own head. Thus, the world is full of malevolent traitors who were supposed take care of us! (This is a role bin Laden cannot fill, because he was never supposed to be our caretaker.)

So now there is a Democratic Noise Machine. Now that I have a little Gagdad, I understand better than ever where that shrill noise comes from, and what he's asking for. Except in his case, he's more than entitled to it. I will be pretty surprised if he grows up feeling cheated of the entitlement that is owed to all children, and proceeds to vainly search for it later in life through politics.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Political Entomology and Blue-Bellied Liberals

Some political behavior is just so primitive that human psychology falls short of explaining it. Instead, a keen-eyed psychologist has to rely on other sciences, like, oh, I don't know, entomology.

Ever notice how ants, in their busy peregrinations, are constantly rushing up to each other and bumping heads? It turns out that it's not just to exchange pleasantries with one another, but to feed one another. If one ant is well fed and the other one hungry, the former will produce a drop from its mouth that the other one gratefully gobbles down.

Apparently, ants have what is known as a "social stomach" in addition to a personal stomach. Until food passes into the personal stomach and becomes the private property of said ant, any ant can stake a claim to it. They have even done experiments on this, for example, feeding a few ants honey that has been colored with a blue-tinted dye. Soon enough, all of the ants in the community will show a blue tint in their abdomen.

This is pretty much how the left/liberal world works. It is filled with media ants, Hollywood ants, academic ants, singing ants, judicial ants, educational establishment ants, and lastly, political ants who all run around randomly bumping their heads together, so that they're constantly regurgitating little half-digested bits of information and feeding them to one another. Pretty soon, just like the ants, they're all the same color.

Take, for example, the current bogus controversy about President Bush and the "domestic spying." If we could have somehow placed a dye in the New York Times, we would have seen how the meme left their proboscis and was sucked up by the MSM. From there, the MSM fed it to the politicians, and they bumped heads with all the legions of dopey TV lawyers like Jonathan Turley and Jeffrey Toobin, who assured us that what Bush has been doing is illegal. It then trickles further down into the darker precincts of academia, the left-wing blogosphere, and Air America, and pretty soon every liberal's stomach is the same color as the New York Times was last Friday morning.

I thought about this as I was reading Thomas Lifson's typically excellent piece, The Liberal Bubble. He points out how our liberal elites have managed to construct such "a comfortable, supportive, and self esteem-enhancing environment. The most prestigious and widest-reaching media outlets reinforce their views, rock stars and film makers provide lyrics and stories making their points, college professors tell them they are right, and the biggest foundations like Ford fund studies to prove them correct."

If you're an empty-headed liberal, you never have to go far to get yourself a fill-up. Just turn on the TV. Pick up the newspaper. Listen to Bono. Read Time or Newsweek. Go to college. Go to a Christmas party. Liberalism is always in the air, like political muzak. Unlike conservatives, liberals find themselves in a congenial world that constantly mirrors their half-baked philosophy, so that it need never be thought through and actually digested in the personal stomach-mind.

According to Lifson, "American liberals are able to live their lives untroubled by what they regard as serious contrary opinion. The capture of the media, academic, and institutional high ground enables them to dismiss their conservative opponents as ill-informed, crude, bigoted, and evil. The memes are by now familiar. Rush Limbaugh and the other radio talkers 'preach hate.' Evangelicals are 'religious fanatics' comparable to the Islamo-fascists in their desire to impose 'theocracy'.... Jewish conservatives are members of the 'neocon' cult..."

I am sure you have witnessed how free liberals feel to casually utter the most obnoxious, bigoted, and hateful comments about President Bush or about conservatives in general. Members of my own family do so. As Lifson writes, liberalism has been reduced to an "in-group code, perfectly understandable and comforting among the elect, but increasingly disconnected from everyone else, and off-putting to those not included in the ranks of the in-group. Rather than focusing on facts, logic, and persuasion, liberals find it easier to employ labeling ('That’s racist!') and airy dismissal of contrary views to sway their audience, and because their authority figures in the media and academia accept this behavior, they assume it is persuasive to the rest of us."

Within the liberal in-group, such expressions of group norms "earn prestige." Ted Kennedy tells it like it is! Howard Dan speaks truth to power! "But to the rest of society it becomes stranger and stranger, until it becomes repellant," writes Lifson. Liberals "experience their differences with the rest of society as a sign of their advanced intelligence and consciousness. At best, they are perplexed at how long it is taking everyone else to catch-up with their enlightened state of understanding."

Liberals inhabit a world of such constant intellectual mirroring and self-reinforcement, that it is possible for them to live a life relatively free of any "cognitive friction." Or at least it used to be. You can see how irritating it is--traumatic, really--for them to have to actually contend with competing world views, even something as innocuous as Fox Cable (which is clearly more populist than conservative).

Odd that liberals accuse President Bush of living in a bubble, when the typical liberal is so amazingly provincial. I don't think there is anyone living in a more cognitively closed intellectual world than the typical secular New York liberal, where there is no diversity of thought and all the stomachs are blue. I would be bored to death if I had to live in such an intellectually and especially spiritually endeadened environment. What bothers me about the New York Times is not so much the liberal bias, as its parochial and small-minded pseudo-sophistication.

Unlike liberals, conservatives, in order to get through life, must have "dual citizenship." They must learn to negotiate a world dominated by liberals and by liberalism. I would never dream of publicly uttering the kinds of things liberals feel free to say in public (although Petey is a different story--he has a sort of political Tourette's Syndrome). Since conservatives have been outsiders for so long, they not only know how to "pass" in polite society, but they also know how to argue. In fact, most conservatives (including myself) started out liberal, so we know exactly how liberals think. The reverse is almost never true; conservatives don't become liberal unless they have sustained a closed head injury or are unfortunate victims of some other organic process.

On the one hand it would be much easier to live in an intellectually narcissistic world that mirrored my own thoughts. But once that happens, you may realize that they're not even really your thoughts. They're just half-digested blue memes, passed from one mind to another, in a caricature of thought. Another predictable day in the liberal anthill.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On The Bizarro World of the Left: Krystallnacht Comes to AmeriKKKa

Ironic, isn't it, how just at the same time we are being threatened by god-intoxicated theological fascists from around the globe, we are facing the same threat here at home, in the figure of George Bush?

Yesterday on dailykos (I believe the most popular Democratic website), there was a piece entitled Slouching Toward Kristallnacht, outlining all of the eery parallels between pre-nazi Germany and contemporary America. For the hundreds of frightened posters that commented on the article, it is not a matter of if, but when Bush suspends the charade of democracy and imposes a fascist state on us. As Kos himself wrote, "It won't come in the same form. It never does. But it's coming. The lure of fascism is too powerful for men like the ones currently pissing all over our Constitution."

By the phrase "pissing all over our constitution," I believe Kos is referring to Bush's inordinate interest in listening to telephone conversations of his fellow fascists who wish to impose a different theology than he does. Whatever. They're both motivated by the "lure of fascism."

Since the Jews are in on it this time, Kos concedes that Bush's targets for genocide "Probably won't be the Jews." Instead, "Maybe Arabs. Maybe gays. Maybe 'libruls.' Who the fuck knows?"

Yes, who the fuck knows? Kos doesn't have a krystallnacht ball. What do you want, names and addresses? As another wag put it a couple thousand years ago, "Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven."

Kos knows only this: "It almost certainly won't be recognisable to most people until it's far too late."

Actually, it's the other way around. Once you start harboring persecutory delusions, it's too late. There's not much that psychology or even psychopharmacology can do for you. First of all, such individuals rarely seek treatment for their paranoia, because they don't know they are paranoid. Nor is there any medication for a fixed Delusional Disorder, especially a collectively held one that is reinforced by all of the members of the paranoid group. Here are just a few of some 450 comments I harvested off the top:

"Yes, we saw a documentary last week on the Holocast and how it began -- its all true and its all happening again."

"Us non-heterosexuals have been the canary in the coal mine... and we have been singing for DECADES about what is coming down the road for us all.... Just as the communists, the socialists, the jews were all picked off one by one, we all get in the cross hairs eventually unless we stand together when the first are in that spot."

"We are not at the beginning. We have walked well down the fascist road. In my case, I woke with this rhetorical question: what is a Holocaust Denier? To my mind, the most dangerous of Holocaust Deniers are those who embrace the uniqueness of Auschwitz, who privilege the particularities of the past and all the shopworn realities of 1930s Germany and who wilfully deny its resonance to what is happening now."

"The capacity for evil must exist before the evil is done. Before there are gulags and death camps, the apparatus that sustains them must exist. We are worried because the apparatus is forming: a government that considers itself beyond the rule of law. This is not about the evils already committed, it is about the evils that may be committed in the future if the apparatus is allowed to grow unchecked. We won't know until it happens that Bush is planning a 'final solution' of his own -- and though I personally suspect he is (im)morally capable of it, I really, really would rather not find out." [Finally, a moderate and slightly skeptical view!]

"The Patriot Act is intentionally destined to fail so that when the Globalists carry out a terror attack they can blame 'civil liberties advocates' for preventing them from keeping the general public safe and then reject out of hand criticism of all future police state legislation that they pass."

"Who else thinks September 11, 2001, was our Burning of the Reichstag? The historical parallels are obvious."

"This is where we're heading, folks. If the legislative or judicial branch does nothing, we are, for all intents and purposes living in a nightmarish version of Nazi America. And given the bullshitstorm that place has become, I think I'll be looking up the location of local gun ranges and trainers in the next two weeks along with going out to shop for a gun. I can't believe America has gotten to this point and my reaction to this new reality can be summed up in one word: Fuck."

"I'm extremely alarmed by the hate coming from FOX News. The whole 'war on Christmas' is coded anti-semitism. There is a history in this country of tying the 'war on Christmas' to the 'international Jew threat.'"

"Many conservatives will indeed start making physical threats when arguing with someone who disagrees with them, and many are happy to act on those urges. They treat their spouses and kids the same way and are too immature to see other adult strangers as any different."


Isn't it odd that these lost souls are deathly frightened of you and me and President Bush, whereas I am afraid of their thoughts. Specifically, it is very unsettling that these people believe things about us that are not only untrue, but cannot possibly be true. They are afraid of a fantasized version of reality, while I am afraid of their seemingly boundless capacity to fantasize and to inhabit their malicious fantasies.

The purpose of language is to communicate about reality. But what if it is not communicating reality, but fantasy? Somehow, these people are "successful" in communicating to one another (they all know exactly what the others are talking about, while you or I would say, "wwwhhhhaaaat?), and are even emotionally "nourished" by the communication. It is a relief to them that others share the same fantasy--it satisfies them, fills some kind of need. But it is not a need for truth. It's like an anxious group of primitives who invent a spurious cure for a disease they don't understand.

Without historical perspective, anthropological knowledge, and psychological insight and maturity, one's present being will simply rush in to fill in all of the gaps in one's psyche. This is how primitives remain primitive--they are trapped in the now, with no accurate knowledge or history. Now, with the rise of the internet, perhaps more than ever before, we have micro-cultures, or "psychoclasses" that can become echo chambers for its anxious, frightened, paranoid, and even borderline psychotic members.

We must always remember, that culture is man's adaptation to his humanity, to having a mind. The reason why cultures can appear so strange and dysfunctional is that, more often than not, they are an adaptation to the inner world, not to objective reality. The sort of tribalism of dailykos consists of omnipotent and deified knowledge that spuriously succeeds in blotting out ignorance. But only by "unknowing" their delusional knowledge can they begin to know reality. This is notoriously difficult to achieve in groups immersed in a paranoid world view. For they are not the victims of mere ignorance, but a motivated stupidity. In this way they are comparable to Islamists and nazis, in the sense that they are drowning in an invincibly dysfunctional worldview. We can only hope they don't act on it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Moral Retardation of the Venerable Holy Men

It's hard writing an interdisciplinary book like One Cosmos Under God. Actually, probably not as hard to write it as to sell it. For one thing, books like mine don't easily fit into any general category, so they inevitably wind up in the "new age" section of the bookstore, where it definitely doesn't belong. There I must compete for shelf space with Alien Channelers, PhDs in Shamanology, Spiral Dynamics Facilitators, Indigenous Wisdom Peddlers, Dreamtime Tool Repairmen, Exotic Botanical Merchants, Futurist Lawgivers of Life, Gazing Transmission Masters, Quantum Wakefulness Swamis, Matter Magic Salesmen, and Prosperity Consciousness Yogis.

Not to mention the king of all metaphysical hucksters, Deepak Chopra. One thing I haven't yet figured out--but probably could if I gave it a little thought--is why these new-age folks automatically tilt way left and are so deeply morally confused. In Chopra's latest missive on huffingtonpost, he discusses "how far into brutal punishment" the United States has "descended." He says that "America leads the world in executing criminals and is among the few Western countries that still retain the death penalty." I think the operational word here is criminals, although to be accurate he should have said murderers. In the countries we are fighting, the criminals murder the innocent, so he has hardly drawn a fair comparison. Plus, knee-jerk opponents of capital punishment don't understand that proponents such as myself regard the notion of keeping all murderers alive as nothing less than a decadent and sophisticated barbarism.

Chopra has said that "the U.S. has a higher proportion of its citizens behind bars than Stalin put into the Gulag," and that the "US prison boom creates an Orwellian world." The only thing Orwellian about our world is that Chopra has become a very wealthy man expressing such loony sentiments in it. He says that "our maximum security facilities, such as Pelican Bay in California, are incredibly inhumane by any standard except a concentration camp." Yes, I'm sure he'd prefer to live in a Saudi or Chinese prison.

"Finally," says Chopra, "there is the shameful detainment of suspected terrorists in isolation for months or years at a time,"the "arbitrary and high-handed treatment of captured military prisoners in Guantanamo," and "the horrors at Abu Ghraib and the alleged secret prisons operated in Eastern Europe... "

It's as if this guy is working for the other side. In a way, he is. When your moral compass is that broken, you inevitably marshall all of your energy against what is good, and in concert with what is evil. It pains me to hear such talk, because, as a lover of Yoga and Vedanta philosophy, it just makes them appear foolish. He reminds me of no one so much as Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most overrated human beings in history. Gandhi also thought that it was evil to fight the great evil of his day, Hitler--in other words, Gandhi wasn't just morally confused, but morally deranged.

In an article in Commentary entitled The Gandhi Nobody Knows, by Richard Grenier, he notes that Gandhi "wrote an open letter to the British people, passionately urging them to surrender and accept whatever fate Hitler had prepared for them." Gandhi told the British, "Let them take possession of your beautiful island with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these, but neither your souls, nor your minds."

Later he wrote two letters directly to Hitler, addressing him as "My Friend," and fawning over him like Chopra might fawn over Kofi Annan or Jimmy Carter: "That I address you as a friend is no formality. I own no foes. My business in life has been for the past 33 years to enlist the friendship of the whole of humanity by befriending mankind, irrespective of race, colour or creed." To Gandhi, British imperialism was closely akin to Nazi imperialism: "If there is a difference, it is in degree. One-fifth of the human race has been brought under the British heel by means that will not bear scrutiny."

Gandhi felt that "If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war."

As such, regarding the Holocaust, Gandhi wrote that if he were a Jew in Germany, he would challenge the nazis "to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength."

According to Grenier, Gandhi was convinced that such a "moral triumph would be remembered for "ages to come." "If they would only pray for Hitler (as their throats were cut, presumably), they
would leave a "rich heritage to mankind." "Even after the war, when the full extent of the Holocaust was revealed, Gandhi told one of his biographers, that the Jews died anyway, didn't they? They might as well have died significantly."

Er, you go first, Mahatma.

Compare the morally confused Gandhi and Chopra to another Hindu who has had a profound influence on my own life, the morally lucid Sri Aurobindo. Aside from Winston Churchill, as far as I know, he was the most vociferous public opponent of Hitler in the 1930's, when few others recognized the nature and extent of his evil. Many in India were actually supportive of Hitler's aims, since they so hated the British. But Aurobindo wrote that such individuals "have no idea about the world and talk like little children. Hitler is the greatest menace the world has ever met." Later he wrote that the struggle against Hitler was not just war, but "a defense of civilization and its highest attained social, cultural and spiritual values and of the whole future of humanity."

What Sri Aurobindo wrote in the early 1940's could be equally applied today, with not one word altered: "You should not think of it as a fight for certain nations against others... It is a struggle for an ideal that has to establish itself on earth in the life of humanity, for a Truth that has yet to realize itself fully and against a darkness and falsehood that are trying to overwhelm the earth and mankind.... It is the forces behind the battle that have to be seen and not this or that superficial circumstance... It is a struggle for the liberty of mankind to develop, for conditions in which men have freedom and room to think and act according to the light in them, and to grow in the Truth, grow in the Spirit. There cannot be the slightest doubt that if one side wins, there will be an end of all such freedom and hope of light and truth, and the [spiritual] work that has to be done will be subjected to conditions which would make it humanly impossible; there will be a reign of falsehood and darkness, a cruel oppression and degradation for most of the human race such as people in this country do not dream of and cannot yet realize."

It may sound polemical to call someone like Chopra a moral idiot, but there are surely moral idiots, just as there are intellectual idiots. It simply means that the person in question is unable to reason coherently within the realm of good and evil, and to make sound moral distinctions. In this regard, they might as well be working for the other side.

Monday, December 19, 2005

On the Contempt of the Left: You Are Not Worthy!

Last Friday we posted on envy, a ubiquitous but underappreciated factor in human affairs. In fact, that post elicited a comment that touches on today's topic, contempt. That is, someone pretending to be a psychoanalyst (either that or he's not the brightest of Freud's children) left a comment asking that I "not abuse psychoanalytic terms in the simplistic ways that you have done," adding that "It is obvious from what you have written that your understanding of Psychoanalysis has been gleaned from books and you have not experienced a personal analysis yourself. I would sincerely advise you to undergo an analysis before you write further on Analysis." He concludes on an authoritarian note, asking me to "Kindly desist till you have a fuller understanding of Psychoanalysis." Without adding anything to the debate, this immature and anonymous poster triumphed over me through the use of contempt, control and triumph, the "manic triad."

As with envy, contempt is a term of art that has some overlap with the dictionary definition. It is considered one of the manic defenses, in that it functions to keep feelings of depression and loss at at bay, and to protect the ego from despair. Even more importantly, manic defenses such as contempt are primarily directed against psychic reality, and therefore against truth itself. Through the use of contempt, one may reverse a situation by devaluing the object in question, so as to avoid feelings of guilt, loss or depression. As Hanna Segal writes, "an object of contempt is not an object worthy of guilt, and the contempt that is experienced in relation to such an object becomes justification for further attacks on it."

Obviously, some things are worthy of contempt. But when contempt becomes a habitual state of mind, I find that it is always a defensive structure that is concealing something deeper. I remember a recent interview with Christopher Hitchens, who said words to the effect that his writing revolved around waking up every morning and feeling overwhelmed with anger, contempt and disgust, and just taking it from there. But in Hitchens' case, he has a deep respect for the truth, not to mention great talent as a writer. While I'm not sure I would want to be him, at least his contempt seems to be a righteous contempt, in that it is in the service of truth and creativity.

But what if you just have a boundless reserve of contempt but no talent, not to mention little regard for truth, such as in the case of a Maureen Dowd, or the Air America hosts? Then I think we're talking about contempt as a very dysfunctional state of mind signaling deeper problems.

This weekend on realclearpolitics there was an interesting piece by Thomas Lifson, entitled The Mask Slips. In it, he notes that:

"The past year has seen a spate of shocking statements revealing hatred and contempt for President Bush and his supporters on the part of important media figures who claim objectivity and sneer at conservatives unafraid to characterize themselves as such. Regrettably, we cannot credit a sudden outbreak of honesty for this phenomenon, and thereby anticipate improved news coverage from these folks. A pathology is at work."

Indeed, a pathology is at work. It is out-of-control contempt as a cover for something more important that is going on under the surface--some kind of emotional loss. What could it be? Lifson, who is not a psychoanalyst, plunges right ahead anyway:

"A sudden loss of status and influence is a profound shock to most people who have spent their lives aimed at the acquisition and enjoyment of sociopolitical standing. Relieved of the ability to shape the consciousness and behavior of others, a certain number unburden themselves of the inner restraints which kept them from openly voicing the condescension and scorn they have for those whom they regard as their social, intellectual, and moral inferiors."

Lifson ceases to desist in his analysis:

"The rise of alternate media... has not simply allowed competing voices to be heard in the public square, it has robbed many media grandees of the ultimate reward of their striving after careers as shapers of mass opinion. Some have become unbalanced mentally, and emotionally overwhelmed by the loss. They strike out with blind fury at their 'enemies' (the subjects whom they have covered as 'unbiased' journalists), and thereby let the mask of objectivity slip from their faces, revealing spiteful, arrogant and bigoted visages. By dismissing those who disagree with them as unworthy of consideration, they expose to light the long-hidden dark vision of the rest of humanity that enables them to regard themselves as worthy."

Lifson cites a number of examples, but focuses on the disgraced former editor-in-chief of the New York Times, Howell Raines, who is so consumed with contempt that it is palpable. Raines gave a recent speech which "allowed light to shine on the lunatic obsessions which colored his performance as one of the most influential figures in American media for many years," revealing his obsession "with the Bush family as the embodiment of evil, a multigenerational conspiracy in league with the Dark Force."

In this talk, Raines embraces "the 'false consciousness' explanation of the foolish behavior of the masses, an excuse beloved of Marxist intellectuals to explain the failure of the proletariat to embrace their rightful vanguard.... In this excuse for the stubborn popularity of conservative ideas, the foolish yahoos are being manipulated by Wall Street puppeteers (not Jon Corzine or Robert Rubin or George Soros, of course)." Feel the contempt that Raines has for you:

"The Bushes believe in letting the hoi polloi control the social and religious restrictions flowing from Washington, so long as Wall Street gets to say what happens to the nation’s money. The Republican party as a national institution has endorsed this tradeoff.... He [George W. Bush] adopted the full agenda of redneck America."

Think about this use of the term "redneck" to contemptuously dismiss those with whom he disagrees. As Lifson writes, "After all the years of pretending he was a racially unbiased friend of all humanity, Raines lets the mask slip and demonstrates his raw hatred for white people who haven’t overcome their misfortune in being born in the South..... The unwashed subhumans from whom he escaped the accident of birth are so stupid that even as transparently dull and evil a man as George W. Bush can fool them.... Raines, unconstrained by his former professional role, and writing for a presumably friendly audience overseas, demonstrates race- and class-based scorn for people whose values differ from his. Precisely because Raines is a Southerner who had to prove his bona fides to northern liberals by outdoing them, he demonstrates his contempt for Southern Whites."

Think of it this way. When you read the New York Times (or most any other MSM source), you might believe that you are doing so in order to be informed. But that's only if you agree with their world view. In other words, the unhinged contempt that we are witnessing in much of the MSM is a preview of how they will feel about you should you dare to question them. (This is similar to the dynamic between narcissistic celebrities and their audience--the celebrity is a "somebody" who is ambivalent about requiring the narcissistic mirroring of a bunch of contemptible "nobodies" in order to feel like a somebody.) Therefore, what these media are doing is indistinguishable from indoctrination and control, for if you resist the indoctrination and think for yourself, you immediately become an object of their contempt.

So remember, when you read the New York Times, you're mainly doing it to avoid being contemptuously dismissed by them as a redneck racist, religious fanatic who is too stupid to even recognize what is in your own self-interest. And you probably need more personal analysis as well, until you have uncovered the secret source of your pathological resistance to leftist ideas handed down from your moral and intellectual superiors.

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.

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