Thursday, October 05, 2017

Help Wanted: External Enemy, Must be Existential Threat

We'll start with some arresting passages from Who Are We?, until one engages my blogging gear and we take off from there. Maybe we can even find their hidden unity and wrap them all together.

National interests derive from national identity. We have to know who we are before we can know what our interests are.

Historically, the emergence of nation states in Europe was the result of several centuries of recurring wars.... [But] in one estimate only seven of one hundred and ten wars between 1989 and 1999 were not civil wars. War is now more often the breaker of states than the maker of states.

The notions of nation, national identity, and national interest may be losing relevance and usefulness. If this is the case, the question becomes: What, if anything, will replace them and what does that mean for the United States?

Historical experience and sociological analysis show that the absence of an external "other" is likely to undermine unity and breed divisions within a society.

"You" and "I" become a "we" when "they" appears...

To define themselves, people need an other. Do they also need an enemy? Some people clearly do. "Oh, how wonderful it is to hate," said Joseph Goebbels.

Humans, Freud argued, have only two types of instincts, "those which seek to preserve and unite... and those which seek to destroy and kill." Both are essential and they operate in conjunction with each other. Hence, "there is no use in trying to get rid of men's aggressive inclinations."

"A part of being human," as a committee of psychiatrists put it, "has always been the search for an enemy to embody temporarily or permanently disavowed aspects of ourselves."

BING! This I think goes to the essence of the left: they simply cannot exist without projecting disavowed aspects of themselves into conservatives. We aren't the violent ones, obviously. We don't riot when we don't get our way. We don't burn down our cities. We don't use violence to suppress contrary opinions on college campuses.

The other day I read that fifty percent of the crime (or maybe it was the shootings) in this country occurs in two percent of the counties -- and you can be sure they aren't red counties. Without looking, I would bet they are Democrat strongholds that have been run by Democrats for decades.

Let's be honest. In other words, let's indulge in a thoughtcrime, which is to say, unvarnished truth. We don't need gun control. Rather, we need to prevent people who cannot even control themselves from controlling guns. Who might these people be? Who and where are these people who are incapable of governing themselves? They are not evenly distributed. Not remotely. If not for certain violence-prone subgroups, America would have the crime rate of Tonga.

In any event, you always know what a leftist is thinking, because it consists of what he accuses conservatives of thinking. In short, his imputations and accusations are just his own impulses and emotions experienced by proxy.

Think of, say, Keith Olbermann. It is difficult to imagine a person more unhinged with fascist-level rage. But we are the fascists. Right. Isn't it obvious that he is simply managing the content of his own disturbed mind via imaginary others? What is MSNBC but a kind of mental therapy for liberals in need of projected enemies? Lawrence O'Donnell? I've never been close to that angry in my life, over anything. What would be the point? It doesn't help solve the problem.

It all comes back to, as Bion put it, the problem of thoughts and what to do with them. Yes, they're a problem, and our whole life consists of managing them. I am reminded of the man who, on his death bed, lamented that his life had been full of troubles, the great majority of which never happened.

Think of the SJW. Whether male or female, her life is FULL of troubles: racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, patriarchy, white privilege, etc. There can be no peace of mind in such a psyche, ever. Rather, her life takes place amidst a swarm of imaginary threats and enemies.

But don't even try to relieve her of this burden, because without it, she will be left to her own buzzing hive of envy, hatred, and persecution. A paranoid deprived of enemies is literally reduced to psychosis; in order to heal, the person must own these psychic fragments and rebuild a coherent sense of self without projecting them into others.

In developmental terms, it is called transitioning from the paranoid-schizoid to the depressive position. It is very difficult to achieve this with a single patient. Impossible when dealing with millions of them, especially when their delusions are reinforced and rewarded by the dominant cultural establishment. And when sanity is positively punished.

Which it always is: for you will be persecuted for my sake. If you are not being persecuted, then you're doing it wrong. Ah ha! How then is this different from the way the leftist feels persecuted by his imaginary demons? That's a very good question. I'll come back to it.

In any event, for all practical purposes, the best one can hope is to manage what amounts to a psychotic core in such a way that it doesn't cause too much destruction. Not for nothing is politics called the organization of hatreds.

Like anyone short of a saint, I have a Greedy and Acquisitive side that cannot be satisfied. I don't try to completely stifle it, nor do I project it into my ideological enemies. But I don't let it wreck my life, or detract from my Infinite Satisfaction for the Gift of the Moment.

Rather, I let it blow off a little steam by, for example, collecting CDs. Or, I let my aggression out by hating the San Francisco Giants. Or, this weekend it will be the Arizona Dirtbags. Who knows, maybe John McCain will be in the stands, so I can double my enmity. But it's all harmless. Like the way dogs play by enacting their aggressive instincts. Except I really do detest John McCain. But I don't want him dead. I just want him to go away.

Which is one of the main sociological purposes of sport: I HATE YOUR GUTS HA HA HA! Which is why it is so distressing -- and depressing -- for the genuine haters of the left to inject their unmanageable rage into our fantasy space. The point is to pretend we're at war, not to actually foment civil strife.

Back to the question of how to tell if you are no different from an SJW who uses the political space to manage her psyche. It's too vast a subject to cover in the remaining time. It's really another way of asking, What are the characteristics of objective psychological maturity? I'll try to tackle this tomorrow....


Gagdad Bob said...

Related -- VDH on the incoherent and projected rage of the righteous athletes:

ultimillionaire young players, mostly in their 20s, often cannot quite explain why they have become so furious at emblems of the country in which they are doing so well.

Their gripes at best seem episodic and are often without supporting data. Are they mad at supposedly inordinate police brutality toward black citizens, or racial disparity caused by bias, or the perceived vulgarity of President Donald Trump?

The result, fairly or not, is that a lot of viewers do not understand why so many young, rich players show such disrespect for their country — and, by extension, insult their far poorer fans, whose loyal support has helped pay their salaries.

ESPN talking heads and network TV analysts do not help. They often pose as social-justice warriors, but they are ill-equipped to offer sermons to fans on their ethical shortcomings that have nothing to do with football.

In truth, the NFL’s hard-core fan base is not composed of bicoastal hipsters. Rather, the league’s fan base is formed mostly by red-state Americans — and many of them are becoming increasingly turned off by the culture of professional football.


There's a hint in there about one of the qualities of psychological maturity: it is coherent and integrated, both with the internal and external worlds.

Gagdad Bob said...

(and the above and below worlds)

Gagdad Bob said...

CLASSIC demonstration of today's post:


"I realized some time ago that needed to be a better person.... Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons."


"I am going to need a place to channel that anger, so I’ve decided that I’m going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party.... I’m making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party.


Trump and LaPierre are just containers for what lives in his own twisted psyche.

Gagdad Bob said...

So, he wants to deprive women of the right to protect themselves from sexual predators such as himself. Convenient.

julie said...

What a creep. I suppose it's better than sexting underage girls, though. At least the NRA can fight back.

Anonymous said...

Michael Trust does an amazing job of describing this psychologically and physiologically in terms of amygdala response to availability and scarcity of resources, at

mushroom said...

If you are not being persecuted, then you're doing it wrong.

I like that.

Funny about McCain and the D-backs, someone was sort of chastising me recently for ridiculing people like Michelle Obama and Dr. Phil. My answer was along the lines of what you've said here. I recognize my aggressiveness and my capacity for violence. Talking about Dr. Phil being an idiot or Michelle looking like Sasquatch or hating the Braves is a harmless outlet.

Meanwhile, it's good to be back trying to catch up. I miss you all.

julie said...

Good to hear from you, Mushroom!

JP said...

"In truth, the NFL’s hard-core fan base is not composed of bicoastal hipsters. Rather, the league’s fan base is formed mostly by red-state Americans — and many of them are becoming increasingly turned off by the culture of professional football."

This is what is really confusing me about that entire...thingy.

I mean, some people do seem to legitimately enjoy self-injury...but they don't seem to realize what exactly they are doing here.

doug saxum said...

Nice post today!
Loved it the first read thru.
Now to go back and savor the flavor.

Rick said...

"...especially when their delusions are reinforced and rewarded by the dominant cultural establishment. And when sanity is positively punished."

Precisely. I think much of the SJW problem is caused by the culture raising youngsters to be activists; that to be an activist in and of itself alone is virtuous. Almost doesn't matter what you are an activist for. Telos has been replaced by progress (whatever that is). Telos has been extinguished. No one asks: for what purpose are we doing all this doing?
When you are an activist ready-to-launch, an army of activists, you are ripe and ready for getting your void filled by the father of lies.
Eve had no problems until the serpent "educated" her.

Rick said...

Re "the void":
"I'll give you something to cry about!"

Gagdad Bob said...

Good point: "activism" has replaced virtue as the point of our humanness.

Reminds me of Kenneth Minogue's myth of liberalism:

"The story of liberalism, as liberals tell it, is rather like the legend of St. George and the dragon. After many centuries of hopelessness and superstition, St. George, in the guise of Rationality, appeared in the world somewhere about the sixteenth century. The first dragons upon whom he turned his lance were those of despotic kingship and religious intolerance. These battles won, he rested for a time, until such questions as slavery, or prison conditions, or the state of the poor, began to command his attention.

"During the nineteenth century, his lance was never still, prodding this way and that against the inert scaliness of privilege, vested interest, or patrician insolence. But, unlike St. George, he did not know when to retire. The more he succeeded, the more he became bewitched with the thought of a world free of dragons, and the less capable he became of ever returning to private life. He needed his dragons. He could only live by fighting for causes -- the people, the poor, the exploited, the colonially oppressed, the underprivileged and the underdeveloped. As an aging warrior, he grew breathless in his pursuit of smaller and smaller dragons -- for the big dragons were now harder to come by.”


Now they fight micro-dragons. Interestingly, the smaller the dragon, the more petty, brittle, and paranoid the liberal.

Rick said...

By the way, I have the collecting "problem" also. In my case, it is Indian Motorcycle stuff - but not any stuff. I own a 1951 enduro-style Indian. It's a restoration project and so that involves locating hard to find parts and period magazine articles; all of which have no value to almost everyone else on planet earth. Like archeology. I know I enjoyed taking the bike completely apart and cleaning 65 years of crud off every bit. I didn't see that coming - the enjoyment of cleaning that off. Maybe it's like time travel or feels like it. I also enjoy trying to figure out why I'm doing it; why I know this item is "worth" collecting vs that thing. They're all worthless. The fact that they have no monetary value (only to the sellers) might be the point. I don't know.. but it seems more like preservation-- of something. A myth or a dream someone had?
Most of what I have, in total, would fit in a bread box (not counting the bike). So I consider the habit well-managed.
I can stop anytime.

julie said...


Re. the cult of activism, yes. it sets my teeth on edge to see exhortations plastered everywhere (particularly anyplace "educational") for young people to be "world changers." Changing from what to what, exactly? Whatever happened to, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"?

I was just reading this morning an article who invented the "Like" button for Facebook. He thought he was changing the world a little, at the time. Now he spends his days trying to prevent himself from accessing social media, and wonders whether he didn't inadvertently open a Pandora's box with that little invention, as everyone he knows is more into their smart phones and collecting likes than actually just living.

On the other hand, he also fears that social media made Trump possible, so obviously it isn't all a change for the worse...

Gagdad Bob said...

As to the Collecting Bug, if I investigate myself, it seems to have a number of dimensions.

For example , it is like the construction of one's personal microcosmos, a kind of imaginary "completion" amidst the inherent incompletion of life.

On a more primitive level, it also satisfies the hunter-gatherer impulse.

As to cleaning the parts, I've also noticed something related to "purity" in religion. I'm always selling and trading "unnecessary" CDs, as if to purge my collection of dross and render it pure. Similarly, audiophiles are always seeking purer reproduction that can never be attained. Talk about smaller and smaller dragons!

Speaking of religious transformations, there is also an element of hope attached to the new acquisition...

Rick said...

Purity. Yes, I think that is the case with me. Though completion and purity can be at antipodes. For example, you are "discarding" lesser parts of your collection while other types of collectors seem to "want" every variation of a thing regardless of its "attractiveness". I used to work with a guy whose girlfriend collected rubber duckies. She had hundreds of them. I think it is/was a thing. Seemed to be the point to get every one no matter what. And that the manufacturers of them seemed to almost mock their followers by producing more and more absurd versions of duckies. In that sense, you and I don't qualify as collectors, but more like, say, sculptors.
I've learned in the Indian Motorcycle world, there are the guys who restore and maintain museum quality restorations and then there are the guys who "ride them" aka barn-find unrestored bikes. Me -- I'm trying to re-capture the essence of the racers who ran them back in the day. They were the no-frills, do their own mods types. It was an interesting time in America when most everything was still mechanical and not so electronic. Now it is almost completely the opposite.

ted said...

Jordan nails this one.

julie said...

I dunno, Weinstein seems to have managed it for a good long time...

julie said...

Joking aside, Peterson does have a good point. He's not entirely right; many crazy chicks can be effectively settled by a man who is - or at least acts as though he is - utterly impervious to their crap, and is also firmly capable of enacting consequences when they step out of line. It's just that doing so in the current year can cause even more headaches than just letting them be crazy. Not to mention possible jail time.

Not sure if I completely agree that sane women have much influence over the crazy ones these days, since the crazy are all too happy to use mean-girl tactics against the sane. Who has time for that crap? Or even that much influence? I prefer to keep the rabid at arm's length and avoid engaging whenever possible. The few times I can think of where I did call someone out for her behavior toward her boyfriend, it was weird, uncomfortable, and I suspect ultimately ineffectual. The best I can do these days is just try to set an example by my own behavior and hope the people who have something to learn are paying attention.

julie said...

Case in point. An innocuous question that is completely not crazy results in a barrage of insane invective. I can't imagine losing my mind over whether or not a complete stranger makes lunch for her man, but then again I'm relatively sane.

JP said...

Julie says:

"The few times I can think of where I did call someone out for her behavior toward her boyfriend, it was weird, uncomfortable, and I suspect ultimately ineffectual. The best I can do these days is just try to set an example by my own behavior and hope the people who have something to learn are paying attention."

I suspect that's because the calling out is best done by a group in an organized and coherent fashion rather than alone. If you want to do the calling out that is.

The group dynamic diffuses the ability of the recipient to immediately counterattack due to the multiple targets, it catches the recipient off guard due to the unexpected incoming diffused information from multiple angles, and the group dynamic strengthens the ability and chance of penetration of the basic psychological defenses to accomplish something of value.

Now, how to do this properly in a sane way so that you actually accomplish anything positive, in a non-bullying manner, is beyond what I have the energy to think about right now.

So, otherwise, yeah, setting the example with your own behavior and hope the people who have something to learn are paying attention is a solid move in that game.

Van Harvey said...

"Which is one of the main sociological purposes of sport: I HATE YOUR GUTS HA HA HA!"

That is soOo perfect! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hello I am an available enemy. I would like to pose an existential threat, but lack experience in this area. What are you afraid of?

Thanks, Your Enemy.

doug saxum said...

Raccoons are afraid of inattentive drivers.

Anonymous said...

Instead of the tired old “I know you are but what am I” back and forth time/energy wastage, wouldn’t it be more productive, for example, to figure out why US health care costs are so high?

Gagdad Bob said...

We already know why. This blog is about the unKnown, not the obvious.

Aphorisms of Sowell said...

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it.

The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

They say thinking addiction is one of the most dangerous addiction, even all other addictions can be retraced to thinking addiction. Religion is a personal psychological exercise through which you address our ills because no other can do that for us . It is the internal enemy not the external enemy that needs to be addressed first. Once the internal foe is fixed the external get dissolved. Humans are imbued with both negative forces and positive and religion is our tool to address that paradoxical construction, It is no wonder all perennial philosophy first lesson is to know thyself. It is blaming the self is the first step in the way of spiritual growth. Rumi said it when he said, You sit here for days, Saying this is a strange business. You are the strange business. You have the energy of the sun creator, but you keep knotted up to the base of your spine. Reconnect!! Say one in your lonesome house. Love all and forget what is hiding behind the shadow. Drink afresh and do not remain hooked to your old wine. Everyday is new,to remind us of renewing ourselves. The doors of our world have been opened on each other and it is unfair to leave ourselves away from tasting the new wine our world is offering.

Anonymous said...

Abdulmonem, I like your comment. You quote Rumi as saying "Love all and forget what is hiding behind the shadow."

I would go further and say this is the total solution to worldly harmony, so long as everyone loves all. For she who fails to love all may remind us in painful ways that some unmet need has to be addressed. No way to forget what is hiding in that shadow.

And Aphorisms of Sowell reminds us that scarcity is still believed in (politicians do in fact harp on scarcity endlessly). There exists now little scarcity, and all it does is make people anxious. They can't believe scarcity is gone; it has been the rule since before Ramses took his thone. So they create it artificially. It is all we have ever known.

A veritable tidal wave of plenty has engulfed this country, with even bigger waves on the horizon. All of that lucre will drive our citizens bonkers unless they can learn to relax and enjoy.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

There is enough for every body, but the stooges are always in the mode of accusing the generous god of stinginess. One only look to the oceans to see the divine abundance. How ungrateful our humans are, they eat his fruits and deny his generosity. They enjoy his consciousness and imagination and look how they abuse that bounty in such an ugly fashion that the voices of all humanity are crying from the misconduct of the rulers of our unhappy world. It is the thinking lurking behind the different manifestations of the human activities that is the cause of all these maladies. It seems the divine plan is constructed on the long term giving the humans the ample time for boon or bust. Life is short despite all attempts of prolongation. In front of him is the real disclosure of the human symphony in its beauty or its ugliness. Let the thieves and the abusers enjoy their time before it is too late. It is a fast time.

Abdulmonem Othman said...

Thank you Anon Love neutralises the negativity of the shadow and rendered ineffective. This is the game of Jesus in offering his other cheek.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abdulmonem: As you note, "there is enough for every body, but the stooges are always in the mode of accusing the generous god of stinginess." So true.

We are all "stooges" in this regard.

The "work ethic" is deeply ingrained, to the point where, between the ages of 18-65, the main challenge for many Americans is to find and retain paying work. This is in response to the perception that without work necessities can't be obtained. Leisure is prized as a luxury and people fantasize about time off to relax and do nothing.

However, this formula increasingly doesn't match reality. Now there is a constant surplus of goods and services, due to efficient agriculture and animal husbandry, and automation and smart innovations over the ages. This surplus is mostly converted into financial holdings managed by those who are good at doing so. Like fat accumulating from over-eating. It isn't very healthy. It creates "artificial scarcity." A waste of time and energy, really like beating a cup of water with a fork. Accomplishing nothing.

The work ethic is becoming obsolete. It is perfectly reasonable to request about 50-60% of the population to be idled, and to just distribute goods to all. However, there is a deep, almost instinctive repulsion to giving people "something for nothing." Nevertheless, this is what we'll have to do to cope with the increasingly massive surpluses.

Future people will need to be "good" at doing leisure while they are idled, if they are to thrive. In the interim they will wait and pine for a chance to work at the slots available, which could be determined by lottery. Leisure will be the main occupation, broken up by shorter stints of work which will be highly prized.

However, everyone will hopefully be issued everything they need, gratis, and wealth hoarding will be seen as kind of like OCD rather than "success."

My two cents, Stephen Greybeard.

julie said...

I can think of hardly anything more anti-human than that. Nice theory, wrong species, and to the extent that it is ever attempted, the results can easily be seen in places such as Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, or Detroit. Or Idiocracy.

"Imagine" all the free resources you want; if people are getting paid not to work, then nobody will work, and soon enough we will all be waiting in lines for government toilet paper and seeking milk on the black market. If there's no need to work, there's no need to learn, there's no need to grow, no need to raise families, and ultimately no need to become fully human.

I do see the concerns about the increasingly automated future, and sadly I don't have any answers to offer besides ora et labora. But I know what won't work, unless the goal is to bring about a new dark age.

Anonymous said...


Regarding obligatory unemployment; I don't see it as necessarily a good thing. Humans feel a fierce joy at making effort, at having problems to surmount which are important to survival. It's what we do. And we've done it all too well.

What I'm saying is we are experiencing success at surmounting important problems regarding supply of goods, to the point where there aren't many problems left. Add in automation, and you get a horde of idled human beings. Bored. Irritable. Lacking any pressing problems. Not good. We will have to feed, entertain, and shelter this idled horde, hence "free goods." There is no way around it.

Our current model, where all able-bodied adults work for a living, isn't going to be viable for longer than the next 150 years or so. We could start laying the foundation for a universal basic income now. This transcends political science or philosophy and is merely common sense.

julie said...

I hear you, but I really don't see how it is common sense.

First, predicting what the economy will be like in 150 years is about as accurate as predicting warming patterns in a century using the latest computer models. Basing any long term plan on what you think the future will bring is a fool's errand. If you want to find a human solution to the problems facing humanity, you have to understand what a human is and how humans in general behave under different circumstances. If surplus and automation really do bring about mass idleness, wherein people don't come up with new and interesting ways (or go back to more timeless efforts) to employ themselves, they will find other, more horrible things to do instead. In a way, automation on that level will simply bring about its own end as people not only fail to maintain the equipment, but eventually fail to understand even the most basic things. Apparently, we already have a generation of young adults who need an instructional video on how to use a tape measure. If the automation apocalypse hits, it will only get worse from there.

A universal basic income won't help anyone when there's nothing to buy and nothing to build, and nobody who knows how to farm.

Anonymous said...

I see. It’s a blog dedicated to unKnown existential threats. All the political language threw me.