Friday, August 26, 2005

The Prime Directive

Victor Davis Hanson writes today about "The Paranoid Style":

Yes, the long corrupt and murderous Middle East is aflame. But that is precisely because after Iraq, the Syrians have left Lebanon, the Egyptians are convulsed over novel elections, democratic Iraqis and Afghans are killing terrorists, a no longer secure al Qaeda is fragmented after losing Afghanistan, we are pressuring Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Libya to reform, and after 25 years of somnolence the United States is finally fighting back against Islamic fascism. By Meyerson's logic, 1942 was far more disastrous than 1939, when the sway of prewar autocracies was unquestioned and we were at peace.

How odd that Meyerson, a vice chairman of a national socialist organization, has become a harsh critic of American support for democratic reform in the Middle East.

But then we remember that the prime directive of the hard Left is to be against anything that Bush is for — even if it means praising the hyper-capitalist, commodities speculator George Soros, whose machinations once nearly ruined the Bank of England along with its small depositors. In Meyerson's gushing praise: "[Soros] made his money the old-fashioned way, on Wall Street."

I also plead guilty to Meyerson's other two charges: Abu Ghraib really was blown way out of proportion and was not simply, as Ted Kennedy slurred, a continuation under new management of Saddam's gulag where tens of thousands perished.

And, yes, Iraq can craft a constitutional government as it is now doing, and that will make the Middle East both a more humane place and less a risk to the security of the United States. The only flickers of hope right now in the Middle East for an end to the old autocracy and fanaticism are in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt — and all such movement is due solely to the United States' removal of the Taliban and Saddam and pressure on Mubarak.

Aflame? Perhaps, but at least there is hope where there was none before.

Hanson goes on to discuss the coalition that has formed between the paranoid left and the paranoid right, so read it all. He is absolutely correct that the glue that holds this misalliance together is a shared paranoid style.

There is a reason that human beings experience suspicion, distrust and hypervigilance. That reason is because there is REAL danger in the world. Our ancestors in the caves knew this to be true. They lived with continual danger just to survive every minute of every day. Those who did not have the psychological capacity to perceive the danger in the environment surely died out long ago.

But this important psychological trait which senses danger and strives to protect the ego; and which is accentuated in children and early in life, is appropriately balanced out by the development of the rational faculty--the intellect. As that faculty develops, the ego mostly abandons paranoia and projection because they are extremely maladaptive in almost all cases in an adult trying to deal with reality.

The tools of the Paranoid 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.

Denial is a refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening. There are examples of denial being adaptive (for example, it might be adaptive for a person who has a terminal illness to use some degree of denial). But for the most part, denial is only useful as a short-term strategy, to permit a person to come to terms with reality. As a long-term strategy to protect self-identity, it is potentially lethal--since the person or group that uses it extensively is blinded to the real danger that might be out there.

Distortion is a gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs. Hinchey's bizarre accusations against the evil genius Rove are a perfect example. It is more acceptable to believe that some evil person has tricked you, than it is to believe that you behaved stupidly.

Delusional Projection occurs when an individual or group have delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature.

It is easy to see how all these psychological manipulations work together to keep a person or a group insulated from reality. In truth, we witness such behavior all around us.

One of the most common psychological defenses we have been witnessing over the last four years is Projection.

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) 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.

The Prime Directive of the Left --as Hanson notes --is a nothing more than a desperate psychological strategy to deny the reality of Islamofascist terror; distort the struggle to eliminate it and to blame America for its very existence.

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