Anyone who had read a Greek tragedy could have predicted what is now happening in this close race. For almost 3 months, the Obama campaign has been running victory laps, fueled by ever more hubris that led to really silly and unnecessary things like the Berlin extravaganza (how many vote in Germany?), and the faux Greek temple and outdoor rock concert, as well as an absolutely shamelessly biased media that did all but coronate Obama. (In Obama's defense, he cannot control the petty foolishness that despised Hollywood celebrities offer daily, that only ends up in raging Drudge headlines that even more so turn off moderate voters.)
Meanwhile amid the high-fives no one seemed to notice an existential problem in that Obama's actual positions—more taxes, more government, indecision on key foreign policy issues, cultural liberalism, big-city scratch-back machine politics—were not all that different from, or indeed more out-of-touch than, past liberal platforms that for a quarter-century had doomed all northern liberal presidential candidates who did not have a southern accent and a southern governorship to fall back on as moderate/conservative cover.
All it took, then—the more messianic Obama got with this stop-the-seas-from-rising and planet-from-heating nonsense, the more enthused the in-house media became—was a small needle to deflate the balloon, which would then loudly zoom all over the place as it lost air.
That jab partly came with Alaskan Governor, mom of five Sarah Palin, partly with the growing unease of the inexperienced and suddenly rather professorial and boring Obama in interviews, partly with his rather brazen (but politically necessary) back-peddling on campaign finance reform, FISA, NAFTA, abortion, capital punishment, guns, Iran, the surge, drilling, etc.
So hubris finally evoked nemesis.
What we are seeing now, unfortunately for Obama if it doesn't cease, is a weird sort of puerile panic and hysteria on the part of Democrats. They are losing it with wild and rather vicious talk about Palin's various supposed misdemeanors, Obama's campaign itself that is suddenly shrilly whining and screaming about lies and liars, when Obama himself is not gaffing like Biden with silly lipstick riffs and arrogant dismissals of small town mayorships (and after his Pennsylvania clingers speech no less!)—all while liberal bloggers, the MSM columnists, the talking heads on CNN, MSNBC, etc are losing their sanity seeing Karl Roves everywhere stealing their hope and change dreams.
Watching some of this hysterical outpouring of anger is surreal, as grown-ups sound like children whose mothers did not buy them a snack or failed to take them to the zoo as promised.
Unless Obama's team can get a handle on this self-induced and paranoid madness, they risk turning a small, natural, and probably temporary 2-3 point bump—quite normal in such a tight see-saw race—into a permanent and insurmountable 5-6 point McCain lead, as the quiet swing voters shrug and say to themselves, "Hmmm, liked that Obama, but if he and his supporters panic and go wild and vicious like this, what in the world would they do when elected?"
Yes, the Obama camp in many ways mimics classical Greek Tragedy; it even has its very own Chorus of demented left-wing blogs that whine and screech with fury at the fates as the drama plays out; blaming Rovian conspiracies and lamenting their victimization at the hands of the evil Republican gods. But in a more fundamental way, what we are seeing is just another act in the neo-Marxist drama of the political left. In that particular offshoot, hubris is just another word for intellectual and moral bankruptcy.
Last year in a post titled "Political Hysteria and the Neo-Marxist Drama", I wrote :
If you want to understand the consequences of psychological hysteria in the world today, look no further than this post at the Belmont Club which discusses the 21st century heirs of Marxism's "New Man". In Wretchard's post, we hear about a group of new age "healers" who nearly cooked a man to death as part of a ritual to bring them "closer to Mother Earth":
The "healers" stuck a man inside a steam cooker and when he collapsed, danced around his prostrate form to speed him on his astral travel. We've managed to replace the Blessed Trinity with the Three Amigos in the 21st century and call it progress. Communism collapsed after a eight decades of trying to "strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest" without establishing itself as a replacement, but having in the meantime dissolved every human institution it deemed to hold it back. Having set out to destroy all the old beliefs so that it could set up New Man in its place, the great indigenous European religion of Marxism succeeded in the first but dismally failed at the second. It created a cultural vacuum in which the family, the church and even the legitimacy of Western civilization have been melted in an acid bath of cynicism; created a void into which anything may rush -- anything that is, except the beliefs which the West had adopted from long historical evolution because they worked. They are disallowed by definition precisely because they work and are therefore instruments of "domination". In their place is anything that can be labeled "alternative": that is, the alternative to what works. The scientific method is abandoned in favor of steam tent healing and astral travel. The emancipation of women is cast aside in favor of sharia law. The most "progressive" journalists of the day fall over themselves to endorse Hugo Chavez's crackdown on the Venezuelan press. It's justice in a way -- for the Left -- but it is catastrophe for the rest of us.
It is worth looking for a moment at the psychological dynamics of people who are so blind to the real world, that they would mistake a coma for "astral projection".
Hysteria is a concept characterized by a wide variety of physical and mental symptoms resulting from dissociating one's cognitive functioning from one's emotion and/or behavior. The psychological defense that makes this happen is known as dissociation.
For the hysteric emotions are primary and are not bound by objective reality. Historically, this psychological phenomenon has been associated with women (hence the uses of the word "hysteria", indicating an association with the womb), but although the clinical syndromes are more commen in women, men are hardly immune from behaving hysterically (watch any sports event for confirmation of this). The newer term that is often used to get away from female/womb association is "histrionic".
When we speak of someone becoming "hysterical" or "histrionic", we are talking about behavior that exhibits overwhelming or unmanageable emotional excess.
Welcome to the wonderful world of feelings, nothing more than feelings (cue the music), where there reality is nothing more than whatever you happen to feel!
This is a world where there is no objective reality or truth; a world where, if you believe something is true, then it is. In other words, it is a world where something can be considered "fake but accurate"; where a "religion of peace" beheads people regularly and is so terrified of women's sexuality they must "liberate" them by forcing them to wear sacks over their bodies. It is a world where this religion, with a straight face, promotes blowing one's self up in a crowd as a devout religious act; and where 21st century men dance around a man in a coma, celebrating his "out of body" experience.
What, you may ask, are such people thinking? The truth is that they are not thinking at all.
The dissociative process often results in a variety of altered states of consciousness. In one dissociated or hysterical state, sleep-walking (sonambulism), the person appears to be out of contact with his environment, is seemingly unresponsive to external stimuli, and in many cases appears to be living out a vivid, hallucinated drama.
That particular emotional state essentially describes the political left and the marxist/ socialist/communist/pick your utopian fantasy/ dead-enders.
Mass hysteria occurs when large groups of people engage in psychological dissociation; and political mass hysteria is the appropriate name when all the emotional excitability and excess happen to serve a political function or ideological agenda. Most of political theater is histrionic--appealing to the emotions (usually the baser ones -- like envy, greed etc.)
Drama of any sort suits the hysteric's modus operandi extremely well.
One of the most persistent dramatic productions of the last century, which unfortunately is still playing to certain easily amused crowds in this one, is the same old- same old Marxist passion play titled "Oppressor vs. Oppressed" which remains on the billet in spite of the catastrophic reviews it continues to receive.
When Act I of this sad little drama began, the world was about to be saved from the horrible evils of the American Capitalist Oppression of the masses by the brave Soviet Socialist Republic.
Unfortunately for the "New Man" of the Socialist Republic, reality reared its ugly little head, and by the time the curtain was about to go up on Act II, the deaths and thorough subjugation of millions under the boot of the utopia called the USSR provoked most of the intelligent members of the audience to quickly depart the theater. The incredible economic successes of capitalism and the freedom that fires it, compared to the pathetic lives of most under the yoke of communism, made most people who were not in the grip of some intense altered state of consciousness realize that Marxism in all it's iterations was a complete dead end--a really bad one act play that deserved a final curtain.
That's why it's interesting that the neo-Marxists of this century have carefully rewritten the play and are starring in the revival, all dressed up in a new postmodern wardrobe. The play's the thing after all--reality be damned! [I described the rewriting and editing process in this post on the four pillars of the socialist revival].
Armed with postmodern philosophy and rhetoric, the neo-Marxists of the left continue to churn out the same message in their revised play. The role of "evil" has been reprised by American Capitalist/Imperialist Oppression. The only differences in the rewrite from the original are the identities of some of the poor, helpless victims of these evil oppressors. The original victims--the "workers of the world" had cleverly invested in the capitalist systen and made managed to make their way out of victimhood status (much to the dismay of their leftist overlords), and pretty much loss interest in revolting against their "evil oppressors" who were making it possible for them to prosper.
Let us consider a comment by someone who is routinely annoyed at this blog for suggesting that the left has betrayed any claim it might have once had that it champions the poor and oppressed. He writes with a pathos that comes from his soul:
Why are little ones born only to suffer for the want of immunity or a bowl of rice?
Well, that is a very good question. Why are they? What are the political forces that keep this little one down? If this commenter really wanted to alleviate the little ones' suffering, you might think he would look at what policies have had the most effect in bringing people out of poverty. You might think he would support such policies. That would be rational.
But the sad truth is that very often people who agonize over questions like that one don't seem to care much about what actually works in the real world. They cares mostly about those answers that tend to make them feel good; and they support the same vapid policies that assuage their guilt and make them feel righteous and a champion of the poor; but which also guarantee that these little ones--and all the little ones thereafter-- remain in poverty and victimhood their entire life (and, of course, remain dedicated Democrats or leftists).
I'm very sure it makes such people feel really good to demonstrate how much they cares. I'm even sure they consider themselves caring and compassionate people-- especially compared to those evil- Republican-neocon-warmongering-hate-filled-bastards-whose-only-goal-is-to-oppress everyone-under-the-yolk-of- the-evil-capitalist-imperialist-United-States.
Gagdad Bob in a post titled "The Triumph of the Will and the Reign of Nothing" had this to say:
...concrete reality has a way of clearing aside so much abstract intellectual theory. There is a reason why Marxism only exists in universities, and that you will never find a businessman who operates his business along the lines of Marxist doctrine.
It is one thing for an adult to believe such leftist claptrap. If they want to ruin their lives in their adolescent rebellion against God, that’s fine by me. But to ruin a child’s life by inculcating him with these dysfunctional values is an unforgivable sin. For example, to raise a black child in contemporary America by telling him that this is a racist country, that white people hate him, that he is a victim from the start, and that his efforts will be for naught, is soul murder pure and simple.
Likewise, to brainwash an Arab child into believing that 15 million Jews in the entire world are the cause of a single problem among the world's billion Muslims--let alone all their problems--is a heinous form of abuse, because when you create a victim, you create a nihilist. Why? Because once victim status is secured, then you are no longer burdened by a conscience. You may destroy and kill plentifully, because the order of the cosmos is unfair and illegitimate, and anything you do to set things right is inherently moral, no matter how immoral. One is sanctioned to abandon oneself to one’s most primitive instincts. And the violence will not end until the Old Order is overthrown and the New Man is created, free of the existential categories that define man to begin with.
Meaning has been vanquished. Man is liberated from himself. The Triumph of the Will and the Reign of Nothingness are complete. God and man are dead. Long live the Beast!
...[T]he political left acutally believes in nothing. In fact, they have almost reached the natural endpoint of their postmodern intellectual journey and arrived at the core nihilism that animates their belief system. Once reason and reality are finally jettisoned as a basis for human action, one is left only with passionate feelings swirling around in the wonderful postmodern emotional universe.
Let us take a peek at just a small part of the political mass hysteria of today's left as it is applies the plotline of the neo-marxist drama.
Remember the mass hysteria that ensued when Bush described Iraq, North Korea, and Iran as the "Axis of Evil"? Well, with the activities of two of the countries in that Axis , many pundits and intellectuals bemoan the fact that by attacking Iraq, the third member of the Axis, we essentially "attacked the wrong country." The context of such remarks is that the U.S. should have gone after North Korea and Kim Jong Il; or after the mullahs of Iran--all people who really really meant us harm--and not poor, innocent, misunderstood Saddam.
Now they say, we are in deep trouble because we didn't--and it is all Bush's fault, of course.
But you see, if we had say, gone for regime change in North Korea --what they now insist we should have done--then only the names of the dramatis personae (especially the character of "The Oppressed") would have changed in this leftist drama. [Note: and now, if we go into Afghanistan,"where we should have been all along" according to the left, then watch as the hysteria mounts about that battlefield. It will soon be indistinguishable from the left's defeatist rhetoric about Iraq)
Instead of the poor helpless victims of American oppression in Iraq that we hear so much about; we instead would be hearing about the poor, helpless, starving North Koreans -- victims of... American Imperialism/Capitalism! (Good guess)
Even now, we get some glimpses of this meme, which the MSM--the opiate of the leftist masses-- is ready to insert into the psychodrama at a moment's notice. If only the U.S. would negotiate in good faith with Kim Jong Il![ NOTE: today it is Iran, they demand we negotiate in 'good faith' with] If only we would talk to the Mullahs! All will be well. All these dear leaders want is to talk directly with the U.S.! Is that too much to ask for? And so on, ad nauseum.
Replay and insert same tragic plot line for Iran, Syria, or any other country that is a potential "victim" of the U.S. Replay and insert any other recognized and established victim group and the storyline is fundamentally unchanged. The sole source of the power of the left comes from convincing anyone who disagrees with them and their agenda must be: a) Islamophobic; b) homophobic; c) sexist; d) racist etc. etc.
That's the beauty of the eternal neo-marxist drama. It does not depend on reality. It does not require truth. It does not even require thought! All it requires is a surplus of emotion spread around to the masses, a few slogans liberally splattered on posterboard, and heaps of self-indulgent and self-righteous nincompoops to buy tickets for the next performance.
The Triumph of the Will and the Reign of Nothingness will be then be complete. Long live the Beast!
How strange that the "New Progressive Man and Woman" so idealized by the neo-Marxists and denizens of the left side of the political spectrum, is just modern man who has abandoned the trappings and advances of civilization.
In other words, he/she is isn't a "New" or "Progressive" at all; he has merely regressed back to the prototypical "Primitive Man"--content to live in caves, drink pine needle tea, and dance mindlessly around a lifeless body. 21st century Primitive Man desires (for our own good, of course) that we turn back the clock and return mankind to its proper place in the primeval, natural order--back to a time when emotion ruled and brutish humans lived in abject fear for most of their short, miserable lives.
These days, that vision is considered progressive, egalitarian and socially just; and we can thank the political hysteria of the neo-Marxist left for the ensuing human catastrophe.
A complete unknown named Barack Obama has managed to capture all this hysteria at its peak and parlay it into an unprecedented run for the US Presidency. In him, the left has found the personification of all their fantasies. According to their pre-set script, his election would vanquish the evil infecting the land; slow the rising of the ocean and heal the entire planet. If he were not to be elected, then it is already predetermined that it will happen because America is racist and evil. Quod erat demonstrandum.
But hysteria is just another way of avoiding reality, and with the left's unintentional (but extremely creative) integration of Marx (Karl), Marx (Groucho) and Sophocles, we are witnessing the tragicomic demise of the glib and pretty postmodern man of inaction.