Saturday, February 02, 2008

God Help Us From the Selfless Left

Another old post from way back, this time freely edited by Bob's unconscious.


Along the lines we were discussing yesterday, insufficient attention has been paid to the destructive effects of our primitive human groupishness, which is anterior to the developmental and historical emergence of our individualism.

Again, we are born in a neurologically incomplete state, in which we are merged or fused with our primary caretakers. Twoness -- and then Threeness -- will only gradually emerge from this prior condition of Oneness, or the "background object of primary identification" (Grotstein). And although this unusual situation has its dark side, it is also the reason why, underneath our individual existence, we may fall in love, deeply connect with others, and escape from our little egoic I-land.

But please bear in mind that two means of escape are possible, one a big broad, the other a strait and narrow itty biddy: down and back into the seductive but engulfing arms of the Great Mother, or up and out toward the Father -- whose "dark side" or "better half" is none other than the Source Mother, or the Virgin (i.e., Male is being, Female is the eternal womb beyond-being; thus, in keeping with "as above, so below," there is a lower maternal pole that is the inversion of the higher).

Leftists in particular always assume that the world's problems are caused by excessive individualism in the form of aggression, greed, and selfishness, which is why they wish to cure the problem with a heavy-handed, top-down collective, the state, instead of through the timeless-tested method of cultivating virtue by conforming ourselves to our divine archetype, thus becoming (relatively) free of our lower selves in the process, and therefore free.

The leftist approach only ends up perpetuating the disease it purports to cure, since socialism doesn't decrease selfishness but increases it. First of all, it is wholly materialistic, thus robbing man of his reason for being, which is pricelessness itself. Secondly, it replaces self-interest, which is the foundation of a rational spontaneous social order, with selfishness, which is its opposite.

For example, if we end up enacting some version of socialized medicine, I suppose it will economically benefit someone like me, since I have a chronic disease (type 1 diabetes), but only in the short term, and at the expense of diabetics being born today. I'll be dead by the time they have to deal with the catastrophic effects of socialized medicine. Yes, my healthcare is very expensive, but guess what: it's worth it. Just a generation ago, my mother didn't have the tools I have to control my diabetes, so she had a stroke at around 60. If they had had socialized medicine back then, it's unlikely that the drug companies would have made the advances that have made my life so much easier.

As mentioned above, humans are born in a neurologically incomplete state with fluid boundaries. The psychoanalyst Winnicott made the apt observation that "there is no such thing as an infant," at least from the infant's point of view, since the infant is unable to clearly distinguish itself from the mother. (One could also say that the same holds true in the unconscious of the mother, where she psychically "holds" the baby in an ocean of right-brained reverie. Just observe a mother and her infant, and you'll see what I mean, as together they dream the baby's experience.)

What this means is that human beings are fundamentally a group animal; we are "relational," not just in a social sense, but at the core of our own being, where we are always two-in-one or one-in-two, depending upon the way we look at it. In other worlds, before we ever relate to the outside per se, we have an interior relation that Bion described in a couple of very unsaturated ways, either as container (♀) and contained (♂), or as primitive "beta (ß-) elements," or "thoughts without a thinker" that will be given coherence and meaning by what he called "alpha (∂-) function," or the internalized reverie-function of the (m)other. Just think of alpha function as the most primitive form of thinking, without which no proper thinking is possible. (We won't get into Threeness at the moment, for this discussion of Twoness is already a crowd.)

So, we all harbor the unconscious residue of an infantile matrix out of which our individuality only later emerges. In developmental psychology, this process is known as "individuation," and there are many things that can go wrong on the journey from infantile symbiosis to individuation and mature independence (and therefore mature dependence; many leftists replace mature dependence upon family and friends with immature dependence upon government).

One of the things that frequently goes awry in this process is that the drive toward individuation is overcome by the opposite trend, the regressive pull toward fusion and dependence. Becoming independent is fraught with anxiety, and can trigger a host of emotional problems in someone with a history of insecure, traumatic, or ambivalent attachment. My son is pretty confident, but I can still see him waver back and forth between independence and fusion with Mommy. It's as if he takes an ecstatic step toward independence, then notices he's out on a limb by himself, which triggers a bit of separation anxiety. It's much more noticeable when he makes a significant developmental leap, which brings new abilities but leaves his old familiar self back in the dust. It's very much like puberty, only repeated several times between birth and six or seven years of age.

What did Tolstoy say? "From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance.”

Likewise, from a child of five to a committed leftist is but a step. But from illiberal leftist to conservative liberal is an appalling distance! No wonder they hate us.

Now, a casual or even formal, black-tie survey of history reveals that human beings are a deeply troubled species. Arthur Koestler observed that we err in placing all of the blame on human greed, selfishness, and assertiveness -- that is, excess individualism. Rather, he pointed out that the amount of crime committed for personal motives is inconsequential compared to that committed by large populations -- that is, groups -- in a completely self-transcendent manner on behalf of religion or ideology, king or country.

The Islamists are a case in point. Suicide bombers obviously do not selfishly kill for personal gain, but selflessly to advance the cause of their group. Yesterday they tricked a couple of mentally disabled women into blowing themselves up and murdering 91 human beings, not for profit but for prophet. (This moonbat doesn't see this latest horror "as a sign of desperation. I see it as a sign of adaptation and a brilliant one at that.")

As Koestler writes, "the historical record confronts us with the paradox that the tragedy of man originates not in an excess of individual self-assertiveness" but in a malfunction of the affiliative, group tendencies of our species. Koestler also had the intuition that this had something to do with an excessive "need to belong" triggered by infantile experience, leading to an unquestioned identification with the group, a suspension of critical thinking about the group's beliefs, and a trance-like submission to a powerful parental substitute.

(You will have noticed that Obama, despite his vacuity, seems to trigger this in his enthusiasts; he is pure Mother, alternatively hypnotic and seductive. Tom Sowell mentioned that he is the youngest candidate with the oldest ideas, but this is because, developmentally, the Mother precedes the Father. Hillary is far more masculine, which is why she has so much more female support. Apparently, women know better than to vote for that pretty but frivolous tart, Obama.)

As Adam Smith knew, individuals may be selfish, but they are also self-interested. This makes them rational, predictable, and comprehensible. On the other hand, no one knows how to deal with the individual who has given over his identity to the group. Such a person does not possess an individual mind, but a group mind which is not critical, rational, or predictable. As such, they may react violently to any kind of threat, not just a physical threat, but any questioning of their worldview. A harmless wimp may be transformed into a beast of depravity by identifying with the powerful group, tribe, clan, party or religion. A Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, relatively harmless kooks, can become monsters if given great power over others.

Leftists routinely accuse the United States of being the most "selfish" and individualistic nation on the planet. Ironically, this may explain why the United States is, by a wide margin, the greatest force for good the world has ever known.

In contrast, countries that have attempted to dissolve individual identity by promoting a regressive merger with the nation/group (and remember, "nation" is etymologically linked with "nativity," the realm of the mother) have been a source of unqualified evil: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China, Castro's Cuba, and now Islamofascism. This actually constitutes a large part of the "war on terror": trying, for example, in Iraq, to bring individuation and psychological maturity to a people who have known only infantile merger with the tribe, faith, or "strong man" (who is always a weak man's impersonation of a strong man). The task is made all the more difficult as a result of the approximately fifty percent of Americans who are merged together in an ovary tower of sheliocentric group fantasy.


debass said...

I read the prophet and loss statement in the paper. I think the entire ME is mentally challenged, but that's just my opinion. I'm sure the left gave them a standing ovulation for their success of allowing women parity in the marketplace.
I'm buying carbon credits from the US military in my ongoing effort to reduce the number of CO2 emitters in the ME.
Excellent repost.

walt said...

Yes, a fine re-past for a Satuday's fare! As usual, the interesting twists and shouts from the Unconscious One make it seem quite new, and fresh.

You mentioned,
" healthcare is very expensive, but guess what: it's worth it. Just a generation ago, my mother didn't have the tools I have to control my diabetes..."

My wife also is Type 1, and tells me that in England, Australia, Canada, Europe, etc. under government run programs, they have eliminated testers and test strips, and tell people not to test, that it's unnecessary. Those folks have to buy their supplies on eBay, in order to get them. So yes, Universal Healthcare will reduce your costs, as such -- but you may not be able to get what you need.

But I know of people that yearn for nothing so much as the "comforts" promised by the Dems.

Gagdad Bob said...


If true, that is horrible. In order to manage your diabetes, you must know what your blood sugar is doing at all times. I test between four and six times a day and am almost never out of range, but without the testing I'd have no idea. My A1c is 5.4, the same as a person without diabetes, but it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to accomplish that. Like right now, I'm very hungry but my blood sugar is 130, so I can't eat. When you have diabetes, it's foolish to rely on what your body is telling you to do.

Gagdad Bob said...

Interview with Tom Sowell about his new book on economic fallacies.

ximeze said...

In line with Obambi & groupishness, Shelby Steele has a new book:

A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win

NRO has a five-part interview with Shelby now up on Uncommon Knowledge:

njcommuter said...

I think that what the article says is that the Leftists and much of the developing world need to grow up.

It sounds so easy.

Van said...

“On the other hand, no one knows how to deal with the individual who has given over his identity to the group. Such a person does not possess an individual mind, but a group mind which is not critical, rational, or predictable.”

I’m reading Jonah Goldberg’s ‘Liberal Fascism’, and the thing I notice as he describes the fall into fascism over and again, is the falling away from larger ideas and Individualism, into the urge towards action despite or in spite of ideas, and those all and only for the group. They seem to lose the idea of their own mind and its synthesizing grasp on reality, on hierarchy, and plunge down into a forcibly flattened world where they lose themselves in the messy mass of their volk.


Btw, I posted my Idiopathic Misadventure on my site.

maineman said...

I suppose this is just another way of saying the same thing, but I was reading a new-old post from OC about Godel's theorems, and it strikes me that these groups coalesce around a search for completeness -- self and social -- a kind of perfectionism, which must , if I understand Godel correctly, be inconsistent (e.g. pro-abortion/anti-capital punishment; against racism but obsessed with race).

The alternative would be to accept the imperfect nature of the self and the world, seek consistency at the expense of completeness and allow for an open system and vertical advancement.

The first approach would yield closed systems that are resistant to change and don't allow for advances in meaning and quality. That would inevitably increase agitation and hunger for real nutrition or fulfillment, leading to more and more frantic efforts to extract meaning from quantity. Just rearranging the decks chairs on the Titanic is bound to get one really pissed off and probably dangerous.

But I guess that's just what Bob's been saying for a long time now.

walt said...

Just because you read it on the internet, doesn't mean it's true! Take, for instance, my earlier comment today. Apparently I overstated the case -- as Dan Rather would say, the story was true but the facts don't exactly support it!

After considerable retracing of steps, Mizz V informs us that it is true that England, New Zealand and Autralia tell Type 2s not to test, that it is unnecessary. For Type 1s, they provide a total of 50 test strips per month, less than 2 a day. Unlike here, you can't buy strips OTC, and people resort to other countries, or vendors like eBay.

Sorry for the half-truths! It's not necessary to lie about Socialism in order to bad-mouth it.

For specific info along these lines, Google Dr. Bernstein + diabetes.

Van said...

Shelby Steele just gave a talk that was on C-Span, probably available on thier site... oh... alright I'll check... yep, here it is and available to watch online.

Gagdad Bob said...


Even so, 50 strips a month is ridiculous -- I use 150 -- and telling type 2s not to test is malpractice.

Magnus Itland said...

Report from scenic Norway: Since both my parents suffered age-related diabetes (as we called it back then), I have kept an eye of my blood sugar occasionally now that I am middle-aged myself. I have no problem getting test strips over the counter, but of course they are quite expensive.

mudslide said...

Hey Bob
When you write the second book....and you WILL write the second book....I truly see how some of the words you cobble together are better, more accurate, more descriptive than anything else to express your idea clearly (Bobisms), but sometimes you Bobism for fun and make the adventure painful. Speaking on behalf of stupid people, please cut down on some of the non-direct punny Bobisms as they distract from the point (and frankly, I don't care if anyone thinks I'm stupid, I am!) - Not that I want you to become crassly commercial (the old american dream, write a book, sell copies, get paid, do talk shows, somebody buys and turns into a screenplay) the easier you make it to eat the dinner, the larger the audience will be (besides, you serve quite a buffet on any given day). Anyway, you can't quit now, I just bought your book...paid full price.. Didn't go cheap and buy one of the used ones, No sir!! And yes, I'd buy Book 2 rather then have to cut through two years of posts.....and even though Gerard thought "we" all wanted you to GIVE us the "answers to life" (ah...not true you soggy seattlite), you can't, you'd be the Messiah...and no offense, the last one did a better job. But some (meaning you, Bob) are given a gift to sort through, collect, analyze and clarify ideas and philosophies, where others of us have different gifts...and we appreciate being able to read and evaluate against our own knowledge (rightly divide) what you write....
So, you can run (Nehemiah did) but in the end, the book is coming.
So don't fight's what you are here for and you need to clear the decks to get to the next, even better, synmpthesis......

egad...a Bobism

walt said...

It's not "malpractice" if it's in "compliance" with the protocol -- which in turn has been determined by a board of experts who decide what the system will or will not pay for.

As I understand it, Type 1s vary widely from person to person, and some people's BS fluctuate all over the place, even in spite of great discipline. Mizz V sometimes uses 6 a day. And as you are likely aware, they are pushing for strips and insulin to be "prescription only" in this country even now, further limiting self-medication.

Gagdad Bob said...


Actually, in general, type 1 is much easier to control than type 2. I realize that there are some brittle type 1s, but type 2 is a nightmare.

julie said...

Bob - yep, it can be from what I've seen. My mom's actually thinking about trying the stomach band surgery, based on the news that came out (last week?) about the type 2 patients in Australia who basically became asymptomatic after surgery. Which reminds me, I really need to get serious about exercising again...

Gagdad Bob said...


Your mother should also probably be on insulin if she's not. Most type 2s try to manage it with drugs, but it's so much easier with insulin, especially now with fast, slow and intermediate insulins that can instantly put you in your target range. Second, find out exactly how many carbs it takes to keep alive, and eat not a single one more, and only those with a low glycemic index. Most people just aren't willing to do what it takes. I evaluate a lot of diabetics, and they are an amazingly clueless population. But even with the knowledge, they ignore it, because they have food addictions of various kinds (especially type 2s).

julie said...

I'm not sure if she's on insulin yet. I think she's a little afraid of it; maybe I'm wrong, but she may see it as a sign of defeat. Food addictions are almost certainly an issue. She's a caregiver, and she spent a lot of years taking care of everyone else and neglecting her own health (her husband had chronic-progressive MS). She's finally taking better care of herself now. She doesn't want to end up like her mom and grandfather - legless and sick. I'll ask her about her diet and meds next time I talk to her.

I'm not diabetic myself, but I know that if I don't keep careful track of my health I probably will be, too, so it's good to pay attention.

Gagdad Bob said...

"maybe I'm wrong, but she may see it as a sign of defeat."

That's a common attitude I encounter, but it couldn't be more irrational. Every second her blood sugar is out of range, she is that much closer to stroke, amputation, dialysis, blindness, neuropathy, heart attack, or a host of other nasty things. I have an MD friend up near Portland who doesn't sugarcoat it with his patients. He shows them pictures of stroke victims drooling on themselves, and says, "here, this is what you're going to look like if you keep it up." My kind of doctor...

ximeze said...

Yikes! Julie. Sounds as tho Mom is desperate. Longterm results of those surgeries are not very good & irreversible side effects abound.

Please, please, please check out the following resources - they are likely to change what you thought you knew about human nutrition

1) Good Calories Bad Calories
Gary Taubes

2) The Untold Story of Milk
Ron Schmid

3) Weston A. Price Foundation


Frankly, BS about human nutrition is at least as bad as that which surrounds the Glow Bull Warming conventional wisdom. Ya gotta dig under & away from most everything that's 'out there' to get to the truth.

julie said...

I don't know if "desperate" is quite the right word; it might be - she tends to sugarcoat things when she talks to me, mainly because she doesn't want me to worry. I do know she's battled her weight for as long as I can remember; she's probably already read the books you mentioned. She got on some good meds this year (I forget what, exactly), and lost a good twenty (maybe more) pounds without really trying, but she knows it's not enough.

She does know that most of the "common knowledge" about nutrition is utter crap, but when it comes to attaining and maintaining a healthy weight there's often a big difference between knowing what's truly good for you and doing what's truly good for you. Not so different from faith, really.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ximeze said...
Yikes! Julie. Sounds as tho Mom is desperate. Longterm results of those surgeries are not very good & irreversible side effects abound.

That's true. My wife had a similar surgery, a BPD, and had a lot of complications and ramifications she is still dealing with today, more than 20 years later.

Complications from the surgery almost killed her two times over the years.

In theory these surgeries sound great, but in practice they are extremely risky, and it doesn't "fix" the underlying cause of overeating.
These surgeries aren't magic bullets, that's for sure.

Gods way to help us in a relationship said...

completely agree. add this too

very nice post.