It is organized in three parts. Part I is a reprint of an older post "When Karl Met Sigmund" which is extremely relevant to what is going on today in our country as we ignomoniously slide into a neo-marxist and fascist state, not with a revolutionary bang, but with a "hope and change" whimper. Part II will describe how Sigmund's ideas were trivialized and perverted so as to fit into the neo-Marxist's postmodern manifesto; and Part III shows how the left's 'therapeutic psychobabble' is now the basis of the economic and foreign policy initiatives our saintly postmodern President is intending to implement.
I. FIRST, KARL MET SIGMUND...
Many have observed that the field of psychology seems to attract those on the political left. As far as I can tell, there is no really good explanations about why this should be, but I have a theory.
It is a theory that goes back to when Marx met Freud--not literally, but intellectually. For Marx's followers, it was love at first sight. But for poor Sigmund, the relationship was toxic--at once popularizing his thoughts among the intelligentsia, but at the same time distorting them out of all recognition.
Let me explain.
We will have to go back to the first half of the 20th century to understand how and why this all came about.
In the 30's and 40's it became increasingly clear to Marxists that something was fundamentally wrong with the master's economic hypotheses. Like the followers of Jesus, they had been waiting so long for the expected collapse of capitalism, and had been so encouraged by the Great Depression, they expected that it wouldn't be long now.
But like a bad dream, capitalism rebounded stronger than ever.
Why, they asked themselves, are the proletariat not rising up in rebellion against the oppressive forces of capitalism?
By the 50's, capitalism was actually flourishing, and so too were Marx's "oppressed proletariat". Far from rising up against their "oppressors", they were buying into the capitalist system and the "American Dream". The sharp differences between the classes was eroding, and more and more of those in poverty were finding their way into the middle class and gaining hope for themselves and their children.
Not only that, the proletariat astonishingly seemed relatively happy and content!
Happy and content people do not generally initiate violent revolutions nor rise up against their oppressors--particularly when they don't feel oppressed, but feel empowered.
And, furthermore, much to the puzzlement and subsequent rage of the intellectuals, in those places in the world where socialist and communist theory had triumphed, wealth was disappearing; initiative was in decline; and the human misery index was climbing.
The "great experiment" in the Soviet Union was failing abysmally; and in 1956, when Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary and violently crushed all dissent, it was obvious to anyone with half a brain that the socialist utopias were not all they were cracked up to be. Even today, many on the left cannot bring themselves to admit that the application of Marx to the real world had only succeeded in bringing about abject poverty, misery, death, and slogans. Many many slogans.
Instead of creating a utopia for the proletariat, Marx and his theories only generated the conditions for societal suicide.
One might have hoped that the resultant rage and frustration of the intellectuals who mastermined the whole thing could have been directed inward, resulting in a suicide pact that would have eliminated them from history.
History was not so fortunate.
Instead, it was about this time that Karl's descendents met Sigmund. In searching around for explanations for the sad failures of Marxism, Freud's theories of the unconscious seemed like a lifeline--a potential explanation of why everything had gone wrong.
Instead of blaming the theory, they blamed human nature.
Instead of understanding how capitalism worked with human nature, instead of against it, they claimed that capitalism had psychologically repressed the proletariat!
If only they could tap into that instinctual energy, then they could have control over the proletariat and bring about the desired political and economic result.
So it was that the relationship was initiated. As Stephen Hicks notes (pg 167-8):
...Marcuse concluded [that] capitalism's repression of human nature may be socialism's salvation. Capitalism's rational technocracy suppresses human nature to the point that it bursts out in irrationalisms--in violence, criminality, racism, and all of societies other pathologies. But by encouraging those irrationalisms the new revolutionaries can destroy the system. So the first task of the revolutionary is to seek out those idividuals and energies on the margins of society; the outcast, the disorderly, and the forbidden--anyone and anything that capitalism's power structure has not yet succeeded in commodifying and dominating totally. All such marginalized and outcast elements will be "irrational," "immoral," and even "criminal," especially by capitalist definitiion, but that is precisely what the revolutionary needs. Any such outcast element could "break through the false consciousness [and] provide the Archimedian point for a larger emancipation."
As I noted in this post, Freud argued that human instincts are indeed out of sync with modern civilization; and that aggression and other instinctual needs, once absolutely necessary for survival in a dangerous world, are now frequently only archaic impulses that impede our ability to live happily in the present day and age.
He posited that the same aggression that was once directed towards survival, in the modern era is frequently turned inward, to the self, rather than outward toward the environment, and causes the psychological phenomenon of depression. In psychiatry we refer to this as "aggression turned inward".
But the mistake the Marxists made in marrying their theory with Freud was in thinking that somehow this fundmental aspect of human nature was only present under capitalism. If they thought for a moment, they might have realized that violence, racism, criminality and all the other pathologies of society, are actually pathologies of the individual--independent of the society.
Individual human nature must be taken into account when one evaluates the usefulness and consequences of certain economic and political systems that are advocated in the world today. Humans are clearly well-suited to some things and not to others.
But there are some social, economic, and political systems that like to indulge in biological fantasy and place human beings on a Procrustean bed to try to adjust human nature to their theories. The more out of touch with reality are the biological fantasies , the more the society tends toward catastrophy, human misery, and death. The worse of those societies are engaged in constant war/jihad and domination over others. You can identify them by the accumulation of wealth in the leaders as the followers become more and more impoverished.
The left somehow continues to believe that capitalism is what brings these things to pass, despite all historical evidence to the contrary. The truth is that, among social, political and economic systems, democratic capitalism is probably the one and only system that is most compatible with human nature.
Although portrayed as encouraging the "survival of the fittest", capitalism simultaneously encourages cooperation for mutually beneficial trade as well as competition. Instead of encouraging war and dominance; capitalism encourages trust and human cooperation; as well as alliances to maximize productivity and wealth creation. Far from concentrating wealth in the hands of a few, capitalism makes it possible for anyone to accumulate wealth (contrast for example the number of people who earn over $100,000 a year in the U.S., with those do in Cuba. The only really wealthy person there is Fidel Castro and his cronies.
But the Marxists of the mid 20th century were correct in a way, when they started their love affair with Sigmund. Freud's theories do indeed explain why capitalism is successful in the real world and marxist theory is not.
Capitalism allows the basic nature of man to creatively express itself by mastering the physical world. The instinctual energy Freud spoke of is directed away from the destructive pursuit of power over other people and sublimated toward acts of creation, which further both the individual's life and all of civilization.
The Marxist intellectuals' big mistake was in not recognizing the difference between repression and suppression. And in not understanding the way psychological defense mechanisms work (particularly the healthy or 'mature' defense mechanisms such as sublimation, anticipation, humor, altruism and supression) .
They correctly noticed that the instinctual energy of the proletariat was being harnessed both for the individual's good as well as the society under capitalism; and yet were unable to appreciate the fact that unless you accept the reality of human nature and give it the freedom to transform all its most negative aspects into something positive for the individual and the culture/society (which is what the mature defenses do so creatively), then you end up crushing all human initiative, creativity, and productivity.
Societies can either encourage the development of these healthy, mature psychological defenses with which to cope with reality; or they can encourage the development and expression of the worse aspects of human nature--i.e., those which result in violence, racism, criminality and all the other pathologies. Either way, social, political and economic systems can only encourage certain human traits that result in civilized behavior; or, they can encourage those that are barbaric and antisocial. Human nature is the same, though, no matter what type of society or political system it finds itself in.
Simply put, totalitarian systems--whether from the left or the right (and that includes Marxism in any of its incarnations, whether religious or secular)-- actively promote the most negative, primitive, and immature aspects of human nature. In fact, they give a societal/institutional blessing to such behavior; and thrive on the resulting projection, paranoia, distortion, and denial of reality.
So the relationship between Marx and Freud has not really accomplished what the left's intellectuals wanted. Instead of diagnosing the pathology of capitalism, real understanding of Freud's psychological theories actually exposes the inadequacies and fatal flaws of Marxist theory.
Because nowhere is there more violence, naked aggression, envy, greed, oppression, racism, injustice, slavery, poverty, and misery than in the shining examples of socialism and communism in today's world.
So, getting back to my theory of why psychology seems to attract so many on the left. It relies on the fact that many of those who pursue advanced education are, by the time they reach college, pretty much already immersed and completely brainwashed by the ubiquitous Marxism that infuses almost all aspects of K-12 education. And modern Marxism relies heavily on the popularized and distorted tenets of Freudian thought for its continued existence.
Therefore they tend to be already invested in the psychological holy trinity: the deification of victimhood; the supremacy of feelings over reason, and the glorification of self-esteem over self-control; and are predisposed to think of a career in psychology as the heroic pursuit of "social justice" for the poor, unhappy and oppressed masses.
In other words, they have been immersed in the culture of 'psychiatry lite'; or, as some have called it, therapeutic psychobabble.
II. ...THEN KARL USED PSYCHIATRY 'LITE' AS THE NEW OPIATE OF THE MASSES;
Thus, Karl met Sigmund and we almost immediately began to see the distortion and perversion of psychiatry as a medical discipline and it's transformation into 'pop' psychiatry. In particular, the therapeutic, psychosocial aspect of psychiatry was picked up by the political left and deftly manipulated so as to infuse their political ideology with postmodern jibberish and therapeutic psychobabble.
If you believe that "therapeutic psychobabble" is actually therapeutic, then that is prima facie evidence that you aren't much of a therapist and/or you haven't got a clue about what therapy is all about and the hard work it entails for both the therapist and the patient. In fact, this amazingly popular psychiatry (which has spawned the whole 'self-help' industry) is composed of equal measures of simplistic and feel-good advise; and childlike utopian notions of what human nature is all about. Frequently it becomes the major impediment for actual patients seeking help for emotional problems and trying to take control back over their lives because it reinforces passivity, emotional excess, and irresponsibility. As for individuals who aren't patients (but soon will be, most likely) it promotes a passive world view, where a person is the helpless victim of forces outside their control but is 'empowered' to feel strongly about it.
Let's look at a just few aspects of this pervasive psychobabble that has permeated the culture to such an extent that it grossly interferes with real psychological health and functional coping mechanisms:
One of the big pieces of the psychobabble industry is the promotion of "self esteem" at the expense of self control and personal responsibility. But, contrary to popular myth, self esteem is not the holy grail of psychological health. In fact, it is not necessarily even good for you, and most bullies, tyrants and other dysfunctional people fairly ooze self esteem.
Most people confuse "self-esteem" with a "sense of self". It is the latter--not the former, that is so often screwed up in the angry, violent, grandiose, and generally narcissistic people in the world. If you have a healthy "sense of self", you are likely to have a healthy self-esteem; and a healthy self-esteem is not the same at all as a high self-esteem.
The psychological defect that leads to so many problems for people in their lives is a defective or distorted sense of one's SELF. The excessive self-esteem you see in a bully comes from a distortion of reality that person develops with regard to their self. It used to be widely believed that low self-esteem was a cause of violence, but in reality, violent individuals, groups and nations happen to think very well of themselves. Do you really suppose that individuals like Ahmadinejad or the Iranian mullahs suffer from poor self-esteem? Do you think that the bullies and thugs of Hamas or Hezbollah or Al Qaeda had "fragile" egos as they made their way through life? And that they were simply misunderstood or had unhappy childhoods and that is what made them so bad? If only social conditions be improved and poverty eliminated then the world would not see the development of such people--or so goes the thinking, anyway.
I'm afraid not. The reality is that human nature is what it is whether you are rich or poor; or whatever color your skin happens to be; and without regard for the particular political structure you live in. Exaggerated self-esteem that is not based on personal achievement or responsibility is one of the hallmarks of a pathological narcissist or a psychopath.
The pop-psychology that promulgated the widespread belief that you must, above all, nurture children's self-esteem, neglected to mention that if the sense of self was already damaged, all the social engineers would manage to do was to create a narcissistic monster. That is why our society is filled with the pursuit of unhealthy narcissistic gratification. In this new century, that narcissism seems to be morphing into an even more malignant sociopathy that pervades society and impacts almost all our social, political, and educational institutions.
Our cultural focus on enhancing "self-esteem" has resulted in the near-worship of emotions and feelings at the expense of reason and thought; on emphasizing "root causes" and victimhood, instead of demanding that behavior be civilized and that individuals exert self-discipline and self-control--no matter what they are "feeling".
FEELINGS, NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS
This brings me to the second bit of psychobabble: the emphasis on and near-worship of feelings and emotion, which felt to be "superior" to reason for enlightened living in the modern world.
Feelings and emotion can be extremely valuable tools for perceiving the world; particularly if an individual does not allow feelings alone dictate his or her behavior, but instead uses emotion, tempered by reason; or reason, tempered by emotion as the basis of action.
But somehow, our culture--once founded on and dedicated to reason and rational thought, which is what has led to the creation of all the wonders we enjoy in the modern world--has slowly evolved into a cult that worships emotion and whim at the expense of reason.
There are many psychological [unconscious and conscious] factors that can make one's feelings completely untrustworthy. These include the immature psychological defenses which, if unexamined in the cold light of insight and conscious thought can result in denial, paranoia, projection, displacement and many other dysfunctional behaviors.
The truth is that there are countless ways that unconscious processes within ourselves can distort our responses to others and to reality itself.
Growing up and attaining maturity requires that we take a moment to consider such factors playing a role in our emotions before we act on those emotions. If we come to know ourselves and understand our own weaknesses, vulnerabilities, limitations and secrets; then our emotional responses to people or to the world can be very valuable tools to help interpret the world. But they are only tools, and if not used wisely, they can do more harm than good. Feelings cannot be used in a court of law--for good reason. And they are not ultimate truth in the court of reality, either.
These days we hear a lot about "coping with stress"; and about how "stress" is behind all sorts of medical and psychological problems. Of course, what is really meant by this is that there are many situations in life--some of the common and some not so--that we must respond to in order to live our lives. Stress can be understood as a frustrated "fight or flight" response.
Our bodies, which have not changed much since the days of the caveman, are hardwired to respond to danger in certain ways. Either we gird our loins and fight; or we take flight and run away. These two strategies covered pretty much everything for our ancient ancestors had to deal with to survive, and they lived or died depending on effectively these strategies were utilized.
In our modern world, it is no longer appropriate or even civilized--most of the time and in most situations--to do either. Imagine if you will, the office worker called on the carpet by the boss, who reacts to this threat to his livelihood by punching the boss; or by running screaming from the boss's office. Neither response would be considered very stable.
We hear on the news fairly frequently of such occurrences; e.g., the postal worker who comes in and shoots his superior, and--as long as he's at it--a few coworkers he holds grudges against.
The point is, that our body's hardware is designed to respond to perceived danger in this way, whether we like it or not. Of course, the boss yelling at us is not the same degree of danger our ancestors used to deal with, but our bodies aren't able to tell the difference. Hence, as we became civilized and our interactions with others and with our environment became more complex, the normal physiological responses of our bodies to danger remained the same, but the behavioral expectation --i.e., how we acted on the physiological imperative -- changed significantly.
And so, the concept of stress was born. We can't often fight; and we can't often run away; and when we do, significant problems can arise for us and for society. Our bodies still physiologically respond, but the usual behaviors that discharge the built-up toxins and return us to a physiological normality are gone. Psychologically and physiologically, this tends to take a toll on our bodies; either as physical or emotional problems.
Most people are aware when they are experiencing stress and the physical and emotional discomfort can be a powerful reason to change whatever behavior is causing the sensation. Stress can also be a source of extra energy (e.g., in sports) if the physical and emotional aspects of it can be converted to a less destructive form. This is where the concept of psychological defense mechanisms comes in.
Many people seem to think that ALL stress is bad for you and must be eliminated from your life. But this position fails to understand the importance and necessity of stress in our lives.
Where once our stress response existed merely to protect us from extreme danger (and still does); today it is a key biological element that can promote and and encourage psychological growth and development and help us to learn mastery over ourselves and our environment.
So this is the good thing about stress. Stress and our response to it can help us to mature and expand our capabilities. Without stress, there is little motivation to change or improve either ourselves or our environment. Too little stress and we stagnate. Too much, and we are at risk of falling apart. But just the right amount of irritation can encourage us to create a pearl!
CELEBRATION OF VICTIMHOOD AND ENDLESS ENTITLEMENT
If you have any doubts about the power and sanctity that can be yours if victimhood status can be officially confered upon you; or of the endless moral benefits of being "oppressed"; just consider that even a mean SOB like Saddam Hussein can be deemed a victim of American oppression--just ask Ramsey Clark how that is done! Or that, for the sake of the Palestinians--the most publicized and creative perpetual victims in all of history-- a group of "experts" were recently convened in Iran to prove that the entire world has been bamboozled by a clever Jewish conspiracy regarding the Holocaust. Those darn Jews!
Holocaust Deniers are particularly noteworthy in the annals of victimhood, and demonstrate a degree of unsurpassable cleverness because they have managed to take the actual victims of a horrific episode in world history and twist that history to turn those real victims into oppressors! Surely one of the most magnificent applications of the new victimhood rules.
In the quasi-religious cult of victimhood that is part of today's leftist, Marxist dogma, "victimhood" has been identified as critical; and promoting it and nurturning it has become a way of life.
This has come about in part, because many on the political left have an intense narcissistic need to see themselves as "champions of the oppressed"; hence the constant need to find and maintain an oppressed class of people to champion. But it also dovetails nicely into the the Marxist dialectic that underlies that ideology. The world is divided up into two groups, you see: the oppressors (i.e., white, male,heterosexual, Republican, Americans or Israelis) and the oppressed (everyone else).
The political left proudly stands in solidarity with the oppressed victims of the world; and it is worth noting that their stance is particularly ego-gratifying if those they champion are undeserving victims (i.e., similar to Alfred P. Doolittle's "undeserving poor"-- who have needs as great as the most deserving of victims; in fact, their needs are even greater).
"I GOTTA BE ME" OR THE CELEBRATION OF UNHEALTHY NARCISSISM
What all the modern psychobabble about self esteem, feelings, stress and victimhood lead to is a culture of pervasive and malignant narcissism.
Instead of healthy ambition, goals and ideals, the malignant narcissist pursues either the sociopathic selfish type of gratification; or the sociopathic selfless variey.
This is a complicated topic, but I discuss it at length in this series of posts . Suffice it to say that our current culture either emphasizes and encourages a bloated sociopathic grandiosity or it encourages the exact opposite- a selfless sociopathy. Both are extremely dysfunctional and malignant for the individual as well as the society at large; and psychological health requires a synthesis of these two extremes of narcissism. The celebrity culture and the quest for superstardom, constant ego-gratification and promotion of self-esteem (at the expense of self-control) has encouraged an unhealthy grandiosity; while at the same time overcompensating with an unhealthy pseudo-selflessness that manifests itself in politics and religion.
The holy trinity of therapeutic psychobabble, the glue that holds this passive, helpless, and ultimately nihilistic world view together is : the deification of victimhood; the supremacy of feelings over reason, and the glorification of self-esteem over self-control.
Those therapists who subscribe to the psychobabble religion and indoctrinate their patients into it, tend to be predisposed to think of themselves as heroically pursuing "social justice" for the poor, unhappy and oppressed masses. But, when you peel away the layers of pseudo-Freudian babble, you discover that the basic premises, the foundation--or "default mode" if you will of the babbler therapist, is the tacit acceptance of Marxist political theory, which neatly sets up the conditions for individual, cultural and societal suicide.
The Marxist dialectic insists that you can either be an "oppressor" or one of the poor "oppressed". From the Marxist moral perspective it is clearly much better to be a victim of oppression. Thus this world view neatly reinforces the passivity and helplessness of victimhood by proclaiming it to be a higher moral value; and, when the only way to get out of this oppressed victim state is to enter the morally inferior ranks of the "oppresors" most people will prefer to reap the rewards of their victimhood--which in our Marxist-drenched culture have proliferated beyond imagining.
Just ask those who finally escape from the oppressed victim mindset only to discover to their astonishment that they are now perceived as "the enemy" and a "traitor" to their gender, race, class, politics etc. etc.--I'm sure you've heard the rhetoric.
Again, a culture or society can either encourage the development of healthy, mature psychological defenses with which to cope with reality and channel human nature; or they can encourage the development and expression of the worse aspects of basic human nature--i.e., those which result in violence, racism, criminality and all the other pathologies. Either way, social, political and economic systems can only encourage certain human traits that result in civilized behavior; or, encourage those that are barbaric and antisocial. Human nature is the same, though, no matter what type of society or political system it finds itself in.
The therapeutic psychobabble that has become the default mode of our culture leads inevitably to the kind of societally dysfuntional and suicidal behavior we witnessed in the recent British confrontation with Iran; and which we witness almost daily now in our dealings with Islamofascism. Our default mode is suicidal. The enemy's is homicidal.
It is a perfect postmodern fit.
III. THEN, KARL MET BARACK...
...and love was suddenly in the air. Karl's marriage to the perfect postmodern politician/demagogue , who possessed all the necessary qualities to implement the economic and foreign policy strategies that are logically consistent with and derived from therapeutic psychobabble, was a dream come true for the floundering left.
In Obama they finally have the opportunity to translate the psychobabble into real political action. Let's look first at how the therapeutical inclined culture, one saturated with psychobabble and good feelings, approaches foreign policy.
Victor Davis Hanson stated in an essay titled "Why Study War" (in City Journal):
Indeed, by ignoring history, the modern age is free to interpret war as a failure of communication, of diplomacy, of talking—as if aggressors don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, frustrated by the Bush administration’s intransigence in the War on Terror, flew to Syria, hoping to persuade President Assad to stop funding terror in the Middle East. She assumed that Assad’s belligerence resulted from our aloofness and arrogance rather than from his dictatorship’s interest in destroying democracy in Lebanon and Iraq, before such contagious freedom might in fact destroy him. For a therapeutically inclined generation raised on Oprah and Dr. Phil—and not on the letters of William Tecumseh Sherman and William Shirer’s Berlin Diary—problems between states, like those in our personal lives, should be argued about by equally civilized and peaceful rivals, and so solved without resorting to violence.
Yet it’s hard to find many wars that result from miscommunication. Far more often they break out because of malevolent intent and the absence of deterrence. Margaret Atwood also wrote in her poem: “Wars happen because the ones who start them / think they can win.” Hitler did; so did Mussolini and Tojo—and their assumptions were logical, given the relative disarmament of the Western democracies at the time. Bin Laden attacked on September 11 not because there was a dearth of American diplomats willing to dialogue with him in the Hindu Kush. Instead, he recognized that a series of Islamic terrorist assaults against U.S. interests over two decades had met with no meaningful reprisals, and concluded that decadent Westerners would never fight, whatever the provocation—or that, if we did, we would withdraw as we had from Mogadishu.
And yet the political left and it's operational arm, the Democratic Party (including Speaker Pelosi, Secretary of State Clinton, and President Obama) have fundamentally accepted and overly rely on this idea that miscommunication is the root cause of all disagreements.
It is this idea that is behind much of the diplomatic insanity (i.e., lunatic appeasement) that runs through the Democratic Party's foreign policy initiatives. It is an almost shocking degree of naivete about people. In fact, it is also shockingly self-centered (i.e., narcissistic) because it assumes that your behavior is the primary determinant of other people's (e.g., "...Assad’s belligerence resulted from our aloofness and arrogance rather than from his dictatorship’s interest in destroying democracy in Lebanon and Iraq, before such contagious freedom might in fact destroy him) ; and that other people do not have thoughts, feelings, or motivations separate from or distinct from one's self.
Now, consider Bruce Thornton's thoughts about two important factors that keep the West vulnerable to terrorism: multiculturalism and what he refers to as "the therapeutic sensibility":
The therapeutic sensibility that now dominates our public thinking reinforces this tendency to excuse Islamic terror. Unlike the old tragic vision of the classical West, which saw human suffering as the consequence of an imperfect human nature and our own bad choices, the therapeutic sensibility sees suffering as a temporary glitch caused by unjust social and economic structures. Evil is just a superstition, for people’s environments, not their own choices, cause destructive actions. The terrorists whom the unenlightened call “evil,” then, are themselves victims; we should assist them in reforming their unjust environments. Meanwhile, we ignore the numerous Islamists, from Sayyid Qutb to Osama bin Laden, who tell us very plainly why they want to destroy us: because we are infidels who must convert to Islam, live in submission to it, or die.Is this what Karl took away from his meeting with Sigmund? Freud was obsessed with science and its rigorous examination of reality. But Karl failed to appreciate that (at least his heirs did). Healing and compassion, kumbaya and love; make love not war, all evolved into a culturally-sanctioned embrace of a dysfunctional perception of reality; and directly led to a need to support the enemies of America and freedom and all the appeasement and counterproductive foreign policy actions advocated (primarily) by Democrats.
Such hypersensitivity compromises our fight against Islamic radicalism in a thousand ways, ranging from self-censorship — for example, the Washington Post’s recent refusal to run an innocuous installment of Berke Breathed’s comic strip Opus for fear of offending Muslims — to politically correct warfare that refuses to accept the brutality, destruction, and death that have always been the cargo of war. We have seen such self-defeating behavior repeatedly in Iraq, where the Army’s rules of engagement have made U.S. forces hesitant to fire on mosques even though terrorists frequently use minarets as firing platforms.
The Democrat's foreign policy assumptions fit in perfectly with the most revered elements of the therapeutic psychobabble so prevalent today. What we have is not a failure to communicate; no, what we have is a failure to use cognition and reason; a failure to have ego boundaries; and a strongly held belief that if you just wish for something very very hard, you can make it so because you are so special (i.e., magical thinking and the belief that feelings always trump reason).
Let us now see how the postmodern economic policy of our neo-Marxists is infused with the same sort of psychobabble.
A lone voice crying out in the wilderness of government regulation, more government regulation and the creeping "social justice" utopian (i.e., socialist) fantasies of the so-called 'leaders' in Congress:
The US government is executing a coup d’etat of capitalism and I fear that we will pay the price for many years to come. Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke and a host of others tell us the credit market is not working and the only way to get it working again is for the government to intervene. They claim this intervention is urgently needed and if we don’t act, the consequences are dire. Dire, as in New Depression dire. Have these supposed experts on capitalism forgotten how it really works?
The “crisis” we face today is not a creation of the market. Government intervention over many years (but especially the last year) is what brought us to the point where we’ve placed our hopes for economic recovery on the good intentions of a Congress facing re-election in a few weeks.
We are not on the verge of a new depression. The housing bubble collapse in California, Florida and a few other states is not enough to bring down the entire banking system. Investors who made mistakes in these markets should be held responsible and those who navigated the Fed-distorted market should be rewarded for their wisdom and prudence. Enacting the Paulson plan will not allow that to happen and our economy will suffer for it in the long run. The Japanese tried to prop up failed banks in the aftermath of the bursting of their twin bubbles and the result was 15 years of stagnation. Why are we emulating a strategy that is a demonstrable failure? A better alternative would be to allow capitalism to work as it should and stop the interventions of the Fed in the money market. Trust capitalism. It works.
Capitalism always gets blamed for these crises, and indeed, markets have their ups and downs; as well as their cycles and psychology. But, it is always the government interference that makes the normal ups and downs catastrophic; or creates the hysteria that leads to panic and idiocy. It is the under-the-table deals and winks exchanged between dishonest, immoral businessmen and dishonest, immoral legisislators drunk on the power they wield over others that lead to the unwholesome greed and self-destructive deals; and it is underscored by a willingness--no, a desperate need-- to ignore reality and the long-term consequences/destructiveness of their own behavior.
And behind the scapegoating of capitalism for their own immoral behavior lies the unquestioned premise--held by leaders of both the left and the right--that capitalism is just so evil that it needs to be firmly 'controlled' and 'regulated'--as if it were a horrible monster just waiting to escape from its bonds and kill us all.
Instead of holding individuals and companies accountable for their choices and mistakes; instead of encouraging personal responsibility and allowing failure (which results in learning and changed behavior), our economic policy is geared to reinforce irresponsibiity and encourage victimhood. Everyone is a 'victim' of the 'dog eat dog', greedy capitalist system.
But remember, human nature does not change depending on whether a capitalist or socialist/communist economy is in play. Greed, abuse of power, ruthless behavior and any other failing you may attribute to human beings will be in play whenever humans are involved.
As I noted in a recent post Hakuna Matata:
The truth is that we have entered into a frenzied neo-Keynesian, neo-Galbraithian revival in government policy. Just sit back and be happy with all the largesse being handed out and remember that, thinking about the “long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”
It's an economic philosophy that is understood clearly by a person in the throes of an acute manic episode; caught up in his excesses, spending money recklessly on all those unrealistic and grandiose plans. Many manic patients see themselves as 'saviors of the world'; and, in a perverted way from their perspective, they are--because in their own mind, they have carefully built a sturdy wall to keep reality at bay from their fantasy. All in all, mania and its less histrionic sibling hypomania are just two of the more flamboyant manifestations of psychological denial.
The entire 'hopeychangey' thing with its endless bailouts that take federal spending where no man has gone before, is simply economic therapeutic psychobabble.
Societies which integrate within their structure creative ways for human aggression to advance civilization rather than destroy it, will succeed over societies that attempt to deny human nature and, in the name of 'compassion', 'social justice' or 'egalitarianism' reinforce the most negative aspects of human nature. A society that meshes with human nature and, in particular, finds ways for the many negative aspects of that nature (e.g., envy, greed, desire for power, desire for wealth, aggression etc. etc.)to be sublimated in socially useful and/or harmless behavior--rather than attempting to crush or deny that they exist--will be a very powerful and successful society.
Progressives operate under an economic model that is more genetic as opposed to cognitive. They are still functioning with the herd mentality and have yet to embrace modern civilizization or individualism, preferring instead to function on an instictual, rather than a rational level. This is why they find capitalism and market economics so repugnant.
The economic primitivism that is unceasingly promoted by the political left is a remnant of the cave-dwelling days of mankind; an idyllic era of history to which the left desperately yearns to return. The word "Progressive" is thus a simple rhetorical manipulation to diguise the essential backwardness of the left's economc thinking.
Thus, even the most perfect and glib manifestation of neo-Marxism and postmodernism; as well as the ultimate incarnation of progressive therapeutic sensibility cannot hope to escape from reality.
Human nature is what it is. This is not tragic, it is simple truth. The biological fantasies of the utopians; and the delusional fantasies of Marxist, communists and socialists and all their heirs, have lead to incalculable levels of human suffering all over the globe, as the proponents of these theories have tried to force humans to some "ideal" state. All these systems have failed the real-world tests in the last century; and all current versions of these ideologies will also eventually fail and fade away.
Sigmund could have taught Karl that simple truth--but Karl was never searching for truth as much as he was searching for power over--not understanding of--the minds of men.