Saturday, June 09, 2007


Victor Davis Hanson makes a remarkably astute psychological observation in a recent column that discusses the breakup of the post-WWII world order:

If ragtag jihadists can silence Europe’s self-styled courageous intelligentsia over a few cartoons or an opera, imagine what a nuclear China will soon do. When Bush spends billions on AIDS in Africa, asks the EU3 and the U.N. to deal with Iran, and relents on global warming, it earns him as much support from Europeans as generous federal spending, prescription drugs, No Child Left Behind, and immigration reform did at home from liberals.

Why? Because most of the anger and outrage is not over substance so much as a sense of lost power — the Europeans of their lost world before 1939, the American Left of the halcyon days of the 1960s. Just as both Europeans and liberals here at home despise George Bush’s not so much for what he does as for what they allege he represents, so too when he’s gone they really won’t suddenly expect the United Nations to deal with Mr. Ahmadinejad or Darfur, or bin Laden to grow scared that we can now “turn our eye” to Afghanistan after fleeing Iraq, or Mr. Putin to grow cooperative once we relent on missile defense. In truth, only a militarily strong, traditional, and capitalist United States can keep its critics, here and abroad, safe and well off enough to allow them their rage over knowing that the utopian world they prefer won’t work. (emphasis mine)

On some level, both Europe and the political left in this country know the end is near for their utopian dreams. I imagine this is quite distressing to them, having invested all their psychological and spiritual energy into bringing forth a socialist paradise for so long....

But all you have to do is to consider the wars of the last century and you will begin to appreciate the destruction and devastation their dream has wrought. Where it has not killed outright the people it was intended to help, it has instead sucked the motivation and life out of all those who have had the misfortune to dwell within the confines of societies which implemented socialist/utopian policies.

The end is near for those societies and their intellectual elite; and the sense of helplessness and outrage is overwhelming. Faced with the real world consequences of socialist dogma--stagnant economies, political paralysis and moral relativism--the ideological dead-enders of the socialist/communist fantasy are faced with two choices: they can either admit that they badly miscalculated about human nature and that their ideology will never work in reality except to cause misery, poverty, and death and abandon it; or, they can refuse to take responsibility for their ideology and externalize all the blame for its catastrophic consequences on the usual boogeymen suspects--America, Israel, capitalism, white male heterosexuals, blah, blah,blah and so on and so forth.

The first option they have repeatedly rejected in favor of the second, which allows them to maintain their fantasy and continue to believe in their ideology in the face of all the overwhelming evidence of its failure and ineffectiveness.

This is pyschological denial, and it leads to a whole host of crative psychological maneuvers to preserve and protect the self from having to face reality.

Psychological defense mechanisms--even the most immature and bizarre ones-- give people the psychological strength to cope with the vissictitudes of an ever-changing and often unpredictable reality. Some defenses are more useful than others for that purpose and one of the goals of mature adult functioning is to abandon the immature and problematic strategies that can only ultimately make things worse and which ultimately lead to only transient satisfaction--at the cost of long-term well-being and adapatation.

Defenses are typically considered in a hierarchy extending from immature to mature. The least mature—or psychotic defenses include: denial, distortion, and delusional projection (paranoia); the immature defenses are: fantasy, projection, hypochondriasis, passive-aggression and acting out. Neurotic defenses are: intellectualization, repression, reaction formation, displacement, and dissociation. The mature defenses include: sublimation, suppression, anticipation, altruism, and humor. Other defenses exist, but these are the ones most commonly discussed.

While all psychological defenses reflect a certain degree of creativity and originality--psychological "art", if you will; the immature and maladaptive ones that derive from denial distort both inner and outer reality.

The purpose of all psychological defenses, whether mature or not-- is to assist the individual in coping with sudden changes; or severe internal or external conflicts that threaten to overwhelm the sense of self. These traumatic changes or conflicts may relate to the people in our lives; to factors or behavior which challenge our values or our emotional capabilities; or to changes in reality that shake the foundations of our view of the world.

All such defenses-- to a greater or lesser extent-- distort reality. The less mature distort reality greatly; while the most mature allow for the expression of the inner conflict in socially appropriate--i.e., civilized-- and psychologically healthy ways that at least conform to reality, even if they don't necessarily acknowledge it.

The key to understanding psychological defenses is to realize that all of them--no matter how infantile or immature--are attempts to adapt to a difficult situation. What matters is not that an immature defense is being used, but how long the individual uses it before it becomes maladaptive, dysfunctional, pathological and/or potentially dangerous and life-threatening to the individual and/or group using it.

To put it plainly: it is not at all healthy for either an individual or a group of individuals (i.e., a culture) to distort reality for very long. In the short-term the use of an immature or even a psychotic defense can give a person time to adapt to painful reality without their sense of self falling apart. It gives them time to change themselves and adapt; or, alternatively, it can preserve the psychological self at the expense of the physical self. Generally, a significant injury or death is a rather high price to pay simply because accommodating the real world is too difficult or abhorrent.

Today, we are living in a world where a large number of the people in the West continue to cling to an ideology that has embraced cultural suicide as the moral high ground. We are living in a world where the denial and distortion of reality is so powerful, that people believe it is better for their civilization to end rather than to question the multicultural and politically correct dogma that is killing it. Thus, they go willingly embrace their own subjugation and slaughter, rationalizing and even enabling it as they blindly cling to a discredited utopian fantasy.

This is the ultimate in self-destructive narcissism, and it is no wonder that when the real world breaks through the wall of denial from time to time, the response vacillates between narcissistic rage and awe.

I will concede that the political left in this country and their European counterparts have been severely traumatized, particularly by events in the last four decades as their utopian fantasies have turned to ash. But it is time for them to grow up and cope in a mature fashion with their loss; face reality and deal with it appropriately.

Certainly, the type of aggressive, self-destructive narcissism I am talking about is not confined to one side of the political spectrum or the other; but the excessive and displaced rage; the refusal to even acknowledge that we are in a war with Islamofascism despite the evidence all around them; and theunbelievably suicidal moral relativism exhibited by today's left are clearly indicative that they are suffering an extremely toxic case of it.

Why do you suppose that the entire sad fiasco of Paris Hilton's frantic and hysterical attempts to avoid the real world consequences of her own behavior is so gripping to our society--and so polarizing ? Obsessive and prurient interest vies with a determined denial that her plight has any meaning whatsoever. Nevertheless, her histrionics and infantile behavior is a kind of metaphor of the dilemma faced by all narcissists--but, in particular, the narcissists of the political left in America and Europe; those spoiled elitists who, like Hilton, are being dragged against their will, kicking and screaming, into the real world where they must finally accept responsibility for their entitled, self-destructive and irrational behavior.

Most recently, that behavior has allowed, even encouraged, the growth and spread of a virulent pathogen that attacks all of civilization. To face the challenges and threats to civilization in the 21st century, we need as many grown-ups as possible on the side of civilization.

And, growing up and accepting responsibility is almost always an extremely emotionally painful process.

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