The evil within men's souls (and women's, of course) hides behind many different masks. We all want to see ourselves as exemplifying the things we consider good; and, of course, we want others to see us that way, too. But the uncomfortable reality is that our darker self is always right there lurking beside our idealized image of ourselves.
How you deal with that dark side and its manifestations in the real world is a task far more important and than all the good intentions in the universe. I suspect this is why the Greek philosopher and sage Thales first admonished his fellow humans to, "Know thyself"; and the call was picked up independently in both the East and West by such luminaries Lao Tzu, Socrates, Alexander Pope, and Sigmund Freud.
It is not an easy business to know yourself. In fact, it is often quite disconcerting and sometimes very painful to look in the mirror of insight; and to acknowledge the dark side that can casually slip in to contaminate--and ultimately sabotage-- all the excellent intentions of the good side.
Insight is a wonderful thing. The power or act of seeing into a situation and apprehending the inner nature or motivation of one's self--especially the why--can be extremely liberating, as it was for Susan. Only by being aware of these kind of hidden truths and inner motivations can a person gain control over them and correct the behavior that they generate.But insight can also sometimes be devastating
In fact, the real problem of not knowing one's self, and trying to avoid devastating self-awareness, is that the dark side is perfectly content to let the light side believe that goodness and light are running the show. The dark side is actually an expert at finding creative and disguised ways to express its destructiveness.
I am, of course, speaking about the unconscious mind, where the darkness can almost always be found in each of us. The last thing that our dark selves wants is for its unconscious processes to be made conscious through the development of insight and self-awareness; precisely because that is the only way to alter the self-destructive path that an individual or a group may sometimes be on.
Sometimes they can convince themselves that because their behavior has some good intention or idealized fantasy behind it, it doesn't matter that it results in exactly the opposite result from the fantasy in the real world. That is how that dark side works--behind the mirror; hiding behind the mask of goodness.
The political left has turned this psychological mechanism into a true art form.
Betsy has a perfect example (via Thomas Sowell) of how, in the name of racial equality, some people feel justified in engaging in the most perverse racism:
The very people who claim to live for the day when no one will pay attention to race are themselves constantly paying attention to race and making sure that no one can forget it. They'd prefer that black authors lose customers because people wouldn't think to look in the African American section for a child development book than that they turn a blind eye to what might be in the best commercial interests of the author.
This is yet another example of how intentions have become more important than outcome; and how--as long as you claim good intentions--you can pretty much get away with anything.
Another way of putting it is that it exempliefes how emotions and the need to feel good about one's self is more important to some people than reality.
This is the same psychological maneuver that allows people to claim they are champions of free speech, as they diligently work to silence anyone with views that differ from their own.
It permits some male religious fanatics to believe that by subjuging women and making them invisible, they are virtuously protecting society from the evils of women's sexuality; when what the society really suffers from is the evils of their own perverted sexuality. They delude themselves--and sometimes the women--into believing such nonsense so that they can maintain the illusion of being honorable men.
Sorry, guys. Know thyself. Your behavior only demonstrates for any outside observer that you are frightened little boys; sexually inadequate and completely unable to control your own sexual impulses, and needing to blame your own animal behavior on the opposite sex. In other words, dears, you are nothing but savages who are unable to live in a civilized world.
Savages protect their fragile self by subjugating those who are perceived as weaker. They then rationalize that they are superior to those so subjugated. In fact, this is the only way he can maximize his "honor"--the name of the particular mask this type of savage hides behind.
In Arab/Islamic culture (and other shame cultures), women are one of the primary instruments of achieving "honor". Hence the bizarre and distorted attitude that the culture has toward women and the exaggerated means by which "honor" must be maintained. So strong is the cultural pressure, even women buy into the delusion.
In a culture where avoidance of shame is a primary function, it is much harder to know thyself. Everyone else's success can only excacerbate one's own failures and humiliations. In other types of cultures (e.g., a guilt culture),when one feels shame, huge efforts are made to correct and improve behavior. But in the Arab world, pride can be regained not by excelling or achieving;or by making amends; but only by destroying that which is more successful. Only then will the humiliation no longer exist.
No matter the cost to the society, culture, individual or community, destruction is preferable to achievement; and being perceived as honorable and virtuous is far more important than actually being honorable and virtuous.
Likewise, in today's leftist culture, being perceived as "good" is much more important than actually doing good; hence the emphasis on show and rhetoric. The endless marches and protests and such. Participating in these useless activities has little to do with bringing peace, brotherhood or social justice into the world. But, as I have noted before, it serves the primary purpose of making participants feel good and virtuous about themselves. And that is the only thing that matters to these uninsightful, pathetic do-gooders.
They are almost always completely unable to see how their behavior facilitates and encourages exactly the opposite of their stated intentions:
Know thyself. They are completely unable to appreciate how much evil their behavior rationalizes and encourages; nor do they have the slightest interest in how the consequences of their behavior are exactly the opposite of the very principles they claim to believe.
"But, we meant well!" is the operating slogan of pretty much all these hapless do-gooders and utopian reformers as they hack out a path in the world that is littered with the miserable lives and bodies of those who are unfortunate enough to have them as champions.
Just ask Hugo Chavez' people in a year or two when Venezuela's standard of living declines even further and their freedoms shrink beyond imagining. The only way a Chavez, or a Castro, or a Ahmadinejad; or groups like Hamas and Al Qaeda can maintain their control over others is if they succeed in externalizing the blame for all their own pathology; and then indoctrinating the next generation into the same psychological blindness and hate. that brought them to their present dyfunctional state.
Utopian dreams always morph with very little effort into totalitarian dreams. Without the courage to look in the mirror of insight, the idiots will always return :
Throughout the 20th century, Latin America’s populist leaders waved Marxist banners, railed against foreign imperialists, and promised to deliver their people from poverty. One after another, their ideologically driven policies proved to be sluggish and shortsighted. Their failures led to a temporary retreat of the strongman. But now, a new generation of self-styled revolutionaries is trying to revive the misguided methods of their predecessors.
Ten years ago, Colombian writer Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, and I wrote Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot, a book criticizing opinion and political leaders who clung to ill-conceived political myths despite evidence to the contrary. The “Idiot” species, we suggested, bore responsibility for Latin America’s underdevelopment. Its beliefs—revolution, economic nationalism, hatred of the United States, faith in the government as an agent of social justice, a passion for strongman rule over the rule of law—derived, in our opinion, from an inferiority complex....
The Idiot’s worldview, in turn, finds an echo among distinguished intellectuals in Europe and the United States. These pontificators assuage their troubled consciences by espousing exotic causes in developing nations. Their opinions attract fans among First-World youngsters for whom globalization phobia provides the perfect opportunity to find spiritual satisfaction in the populist jeremiad of the Latin American Idiot against the wicked West.
There’s nothing original about First-World intellectuals’ projecting their utopias onto Latin America. Christopher Columbus stumbled on the shores of the Americas at a time when Renaissance utopian ideas were in vogue; from the very beginning, conquistadors described the lands as nothing short of paradisiacal. The myth of the Good Savage—the idea that the natives of the New World embodied a pristine goodness untarnished by the evils of civilization—impregnated the European mind.
Vargas Llosa refers to what brings out the "idiot" as an inferiority complex. But more than that, it is an inferiority complex that hides behind a mask of superiority and moral righteousness.
When you think about it, the psyches of those who live in such cognitive dissonance has developed a most clever way to disguise the fundamental sense of inferiority; and to hide from the reality of their own racism or sexism. The mask hides all those inadequacies and keeps them from discovering--let alone learning how to control--their own dark side. This is the pathoogy that allows them to unconcernedly act out their darkest and most contemptible wishes and drives in reality, while patting themselves on the back for being so virtuous and good. Brilliant!
That's how you can transform a perfidious concept like "affirmative action" (meant to "level the playing field", but in actuality it has only facilitated and encouraged racial stereotyping and promoted all-around mediocrity) which glorifies and transforms racial quotas into one of the essential "goodness" of leftist dogma! That is how discriminating on the basis of race --the definition of racism--became one of the mantras of all the mindless leftist droids.
So what does it mean to a psychiatrist when a person (or group) say they stand for one thing, but their individual and collective behavior demonstrate exactly the opposite?
In psychoanalytic theory, a reaction formation is a neurotic psychological defense mechanism in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions are replaced by their direct opposites. A projection is the much more primitive precursor of this type of defense (discussed here , here and here. Both defenses are deployed when the dark side of the self is kept out of consciousness; and they work behind the scenes to obliterate and obscure an awareness of one's real motivations and feelings. Under the mask provided by these defenses, the consequences of one's emotions or behavior are able to be ignored or dismissed, and the individual or group is able to convince themselves that the darkness within is actually external.
I notice in this Wikipedia article about reaction formation, the author very kindly produced three examples of individuals or types that engage in the neurotic behavior of reaction formation. All three examples are typical of the heart and soul of modern leftist thought: the homophobic behavior of rednecks; the hypocritical behavior of Republicans( Mark Foley is mentioned) and those on the religious right who secretly are into pornography while publically expressing anti-porn views. Indeed, all three individual examples are good ones of the pathology in question.
What makes me laugh is how this Wikipedia exposition is itself a perfect example of a reaction formation (at best) or a projection (at worse). I suspect (but obviously don't know for sure) that the author is of the leftist political persuasion; because it is clearly desperately important for him or her to demonstrate how the members of the political right engage in this kind of pathological behavior. The hypocrites who are so religious, yet engage in secret pornographic entertainment; the homophobic rednecks who fear their own homosexual thoughts and lash out at gays--these are his/her examples.
But let me explain the difference between those individual examples and what I am talking about. Reaction formation is a well-used human psychological defense mechanism. It represents a strategy employed by dysfunctional individuals of both the left and right politics, who will not willingly look in the mirror of insight. The human condition has plenty of these neurotically impaired people. The damage that such individuals do to their own lives and to the lives of their loved ones is often very great.
However, consider this defense mechanism when an entire group, culture or religion uses it regularly--and even manages to institutionalize it as a group imperative. The ripple effects are not localized to the immediate vicinity of their loved ones or co-workers. Its impact is wide-spread; and when amplified by the MSM, mass hysteria is generated and the large-scale emotional dysregulation goes well beyond damaging a few people; to negatively impacting large groups or nations of people.
Just like paranoia and projection (which are more psychotic than neurotic defenses) large groups can take up the banner of psychological dysfunction and actively encourage members to act mentally unbalanced for the sake of the group.
This kind of group or cultural dysfunction has somewhat more severe repercussions, as you might imagine, because group psychopathology can lead to misery on a large-scale and unbelievable atrocities that are sanctioned by the group.
There is no dysfunction like group dysfunction, I always say, to really screw up the entire world; and at this moment in time, the political left, along with all its allies here and abroad, win the Worldwide Group Psychopathology Award hands down. As their failures become more pronounced, the level of hysteria rises: the conspiracy theories escalate; and the reaction formation is ratcheted up even further. They will never willingly look in the mirror or explore their own inner darkness to try and understand how they have become the very evil they once claimed they stood against.
But the mask is slipping....