Paranoid Style with a Ph.D.
From UC-Berkeley, the school that told us about the "psychological factors" underpinning conservatism (i.e., "fear and aggression," "dogmatism," etc.), comes a brand-new effort to expand the horizons of human knowledge:
Now, with backing from an anonymous donor, the University of California, Berkeley ... is creating a Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements. According to experts in the field it is the first of its kind in higher education.
And hopefully the last. Talk about the politicization of science. Expect to see this sort of academic and scientific pseudoobjectivity to spread (remember the MSM? Soon we'll have to deal with MSS, or main-stream (i.e. lockstep) science); along with the ongoinganti-semitism; anf the gleeful stoking of class envy under the Obamessiah's leadership.
The class envy link above cheers on class warfare with little gems like this: "The Armani-clad parasite class have had a free ride since the first seconds of the Reagan Administration, engineering three decades of rising national productivity paired with flatlined or declining real wages for some 98 percent of the population even as their own pay packets bloated like blood-engorged ticks." Really. You've got to admire the constant moronic outpourings of Marxist rage and paranoia emanating from the left--even when they are in a position of power. You would think that they would be happy now that their Savior is leader of the free world; but, alas, such infantile ravings remain all too common among those who laughingly refer to themselves as the "reality-based" community. The particular author of the article linked to is fervently wished a long, environmentally friendly stint in a collectivist gulag somewhere, where the chance of coming into contact with those horrible 'Armani-clad parasites' is extremely remote--Cuba, Venezuela, or Zimbabwe perhaps.
Anyway, you might think that an academic center of learning would be interested in looking at political paranoia and political dysfunction in general--left and right variations; otherwise, how could they possibly explain the paranoid rantings we have been subjected to over the last eight years of the Bush Administration? Like this political cartoon that pretty much exemplifies the paranoid mindset that was rampant in this country during the Bush administration--and it wasn't coming from "rightwing" groups:
Why in the world would anyone think that the President and Vice President of the United States of America would be in a conspiracy with Islamofascists who openly state their intention of destroying both our country and our way of life? To what purpose? What could possibly be gained?
Don't expect a rational response to such questions. Don't expect reason at all from the leftwing groups that clearly don't deserve scientific inquiry because those on that side of the political spectrum are so vastly superior.
The numerous and complicated conspiracy theories constructed around all of the shibboleths of the left (many of which have evolved into dogma since 9/11)--anti-capitalism; multilateralism; multiculturalism; poverty; victims of US imperialism; anti-Americanism etc. etc. are off the table. Like Man-made global warming, there is no debate and if you question their position on any of these scriptural doctrines, you clearly deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Nevertheless, if anyone with a science background managed to put all the left's various conspiracy theories together end-to-end, they would have a neverending line of bizarre and often contradictory components that should make any reasonably intelligent person roll on the floor convulsed with laughter.
Not only are such a beliefs perfect examples of the depths of insanity to which the political left has sunk; but it is very interesting that all their various paranoias about the BushHitler/Darth Cheney evil seem to continue unabated since their ascension into heaven where they now control both the White House and Congress.
Indeed, the One can't seem to make a speech about either the financial situation or to talk about his foreign policy without gratuitously bashing Bush or Cheney or both in the process.
Now, as a psychiatrist, I can't help noticing that this obsessive behavior suggests that on some level the left understands that they really have no new ideas to offer at all--besides the same, old, tired socialist/marxist protocols that have been around for a few generations and have repeatedly failed to bring prosperity or wealth wherever they have been implemented. These destructive, and soul-killing totalitarian ideas should rightfully be languishing in the dustbin of history; but because of postmodernism's deconstruction of Western history and its infiltration into all curricula at our institutions of higher learning (of which the new center at Berkeley is sure to be a stellar standout)the young and stupid seem to be swallowing the "hope and change" snake-oil that Obama sells.
When they aren't outright denying the reality of 9/11; they are downplaying its significance or snidely suggesting that it is not a big deal historically speaking; and that the war on terror-- or, should I say "Contingency Overseas Operations"?--shouldn't even be on the priority list of things to do. Using the most simple of postmodern rhetorical devices ( changing the meaning of words) they are actively trying to "undo" the Bush years. Like children intent on doing the opposite of whatever their parents want them to do (sometimes called "oppositional-defiance"), they only suceed in defining themselves in derivative terms. In fact, they have no particular "self" at all that is separate from hating Bush, hating America, and hating freedom.
Richard Hofstadter wrote a famous essay in the 1950's titled The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
At the time he wrote the essay, Hofstadter was primarily concerned with the conspiratorial fantasies of the right side of the political spectrum. Our present political climate however, offers much support for those who suspect that paranoid strain now also infects the left side with a virulent case of the same illness.
Psychologically, it is very difficult to abandon paranoia and psychological projection once they are taken on by a particular group, since both--along with the delusions and distortions that they generate-- serve the purpose of accounting for an unacceptable status quo. Without a scapegoat who is considered to be racially, sexually, physically, or intellectually inferior, onto which your own fears can be projected; it would be horrifying and untenable to look inside one's own heart and soul for the source of the fear.
This is the nature of projection and paranoia. Those horrifying and unacceptable thoughts or feelings are denied ("not owned") by the person experiencing them, and instead are projected onto another individual or group. Thus, the person who originally had the offensive thought or feeling becomes the helpless victim of the evil "other" and they do not have to cope with the fact that the evil lies within themselves. This is the origin of almost all acts of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, etc. It is the source of most prejudice in the world; and certain prejudices that become socially acceptable--like the casual anti-semitism ubiquitous in the Middle East; or the causal anti-Republican, anti-conservative rhetoric adopted by the intellectual "elite" of this country.
Let me be clear, though. Paranoia is not confined to one side of the political spectrum or the other. The paranoid style is a human condition; often brought about by envy or rage or hate. Such feelings are intensely felt, but conflict with a fantasized self-perfection ("I am more compassionate", "I am more loving", "I am a better person") cause them to be "disowned" and conveniently placed on the object of the envy, rage or hate.
For the mentally ill, the underlying etiology of this process is an inborn (genetic or physiological) defect. For groups or nations, it represents a fundamental defect in the ideology and philosophical premises that have been embraced, and leads to highly dysfunctional behavior and sometimes frank paranoia that is indistinguishable from the kind suffered by psychiatric patients.
The tools of the politically paranoid--i.e., the paranoid style of the extreme right or left -- are denial, distortion, and projection. These psychological tools are almost always pathological when used to cope with the real world. For the user these three primitive psychological defenses permit a rearrangement of external reality (so that actual reality may be avoided); for the beholder, the users of these mechanisms frequently appear crazy or insane. These are known as the "psychotic" defenses, common in overt psychosis, in dreams, and throughout childhood.
These immature psychological manipulations work together to keep a person or a group insulated from reality. And it is reality that always has the ultimate say. Transiently avoiding reality may work for a time, but eventually, objective reality will defeat any attempt to pretend it doesn't exist.
One of the most common psychological defenses we have been witnessing over the last eight years since 9/11 is psychological projection by the political left.
Projection is never a good long-term strategy--nor is it healthy--in an adult; and using such a defense mechanism represents a primitive attempt to shirk the responsibility for one's own feelings, thoughts, and actions. It causes and has caused much human misery, death, destruction and some of the most horrific acts that humans are capable of. When entire countries subscribe to a projected delusion (e.g., the "Jews" are to blame; the "Blacks" are the cause of all of our problems; "Republicans" are evil; homosexuals are evil--especially Republican homosexuals) it can lead to genocide and other behaviors that are paranoid and psychotically delusional. Full-blown paranoia occurs when one's mind severs the connection with reality entirely. Paranoia is a symptom of mental illness. Projection is only a symptom of severe mental dysfunction, as the psyche attempts to cope with a threatening world.
The motivations of the left have been a conglomeration of desperate psychological strategies to deny the reality of Islamofascist terror; distort the struggle to eliminate it and to blame America for its very existence. It is safe to blame America, Israel and the West because (to paraphrase the wise words of Han Solo, speaking of Wookies) they don't cut off your head with a dull blade when they lose. Their agenda has always been anti-America and anti-capitalism.
Unfortunately, though they have had eight years to correct their false premises and re-evaluate their philosophy, they did not. A series of unfortunate events (to coin a phrase), as well as some serious philosophical errors by those who professed to support capitalism and freedom, have led to the left's regaining power in this country. The problem is that they regained power not because they gained wisdom; or because they checked their philosophical premises and came to more rational or "reality-based" (as they would like to say) conclusions. On the contrary, they came back to power on the coattails of one of the most talented postmodern political demagogues this country has ever seen (and we though Bill Clinton was rhetorically gifted!).
Let me be perfectly clear about the behavior of the left. They are not really "antiwar". They do not stage protests about the killing of innocent people by Al Qaeda's or Hamas or Hezbollah. They never demonstrated against the 100 million or more people murdered by communism in the last century--they cozy up to 21st century communists and thugs like Hugo Chavez. They never expressed their rage at the mass graves of Saddam; instead, they reserved that rage for Saddam's execution, which they can blame on the US.
They do not really support free speech--except for themselves. Their behavior on college campuses and in the political arena in general demostrate clearly that their behavior and rhetoric is designed to shut down debate and censor and/or distort any speech they don't happen to agree with; and they have a variety of rhetorical strategies to do this.
This is not to say that there is no paranoia on the political right. Check out the religiously "righteous" protestors at soldier's funeral or the anti-semitism of a David Duke; or any of those who feel their belief in God--or Allah for that matter-- justifies uncivilized and even barbaric behavior on their part. Let us be equally honest about this variation of the paranoid style: their behavior serves to camouflage the unacceptable feelings within that must be externalized to keep their own souls "holy" and "pure".
You will notice that both groups reserve their most intense hatred and rage for America and its values and ideals.
And that is what both philosophically and ideologically have in common and which is at the "root cause" that motivates the two supposedly politically opposite groups. Both are rabidly, vehemently and unapologetically anti-American, and believe that America and its values are the source of all evil in the world.
If either really wanted to understand the origins of human evil, all they would need to do is look within their own motivations and "own" their own feelings. This is the heart of the matter; but it is an extremely frightening proposition, requiring a degree of self-awareness, courage and honesty that is unlikely to be found in any who embrace the paranoid style.
So, if Berkeley really supports science and truth and reason--rather than their politicalization--then perhaps they might think twice about accepting money from anonymous donors (Soros?) for the demonization of the left's political enemies. Oh, wait....