I am not a big fan of Ann Coulter; nor have I read her books, but I heard her say this on Fox News the other day and I was struck by how psychologically astute the comment was.
What Coulter is alluding to is the mechanism of projection, which is the psychological strategy by which the user is able to disown his or her own thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors-- even as they virtuously accuse others of possessing those same thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
In, "The Necessary Enemy", Dr. Zero at Hot Air identified a crucial psychological defense that is required for collectivism in all its variations:
Collectivist politics of any stripe requires enemies, because they rely upon coercion. Socialist utopias don’t come into existence spontaneously. There would be no need for confiscatory tax rates on the wealthy, if the wealthy voluntarily used their money to buy cars and houses for everyone in the lower income brackets, without requiring them to work in return. Nobody would be talking about nationalizing health care if doctors and hospital staff were happy to work eighty hour weeks for minimum wage, and pharmaceutical companies were run as giant charities that cheerfully sank billions into developing drugs they resell at cost. Few people would leave a sizable chunk of their estates to the government, if the government didn’t seize the money through death taxes. No large group of people on Earth has every freely chosen to peacefully organize themselves into a socialist collective – they either slip into it through small losses of freedom that seem relatively painless as they happen, or they are forced into it at gunpoint. If Franklin Delano Roosevelt had proposed Obama’s current budget and regulatory plans at the outset of the New Deal, he would have been laughed out of office, and if he had attempted to impose Obama’s policies by force, he would have needed infantry platoons and tanks.
The basic premise of socialist government, as Obama famously explained to a plumber in Ohio last fall, is to take wealth away from the more successful people in society, and “spread that wealth around.” This will always be a more attractive proposition to the people serving as the bread, than the people being used as the peanut butter. The creators of wealth must be forced to participate in the system, far beyond the point where a sense of civic duty or compassion for the downtrodden would keep them in line. After all, nearly half the country currently pays no income taxes, and they’re not all “downtrodden” people deserving of charity. In fact, the socialist dream is to reach the point where over half the population pays no taxes, and will thus be inclined to support all expansions of government power. You can’t get to the magic 51% of tax dependents just by using hungry orphans as props.
Increasing levels of coercion are necessary to expand the socialist system, and keep wealth producers trapped within it. To maintain popular support, the socialist needs voters to stay angry at designated class enemies. The Obama style of total government control over private businesses tends to turn feral with frightening speed, because it attempts to preserve the illusion of private enterprise, even as the “entrepreneurs” are enslaved to the total state.
The psychological defense mechanism being described is projection (which, with just a little psychic push and hysteria becomes full-blown paranoia).
The beginning of the 21st century will surely be looked back on as a golden age of paranoia. The headlines of today fairly ooze with the delusions and vast conspiracies dreamed of in the mind of the paranoid left.
I will also admit that paranoia and delusional thinking are equal-opportunity, multiracial, multicultural and gender-indifferent psychological processes. And, they are so easy and convenient to use, that they are accessible even to the youngest of children or the most physiologically disabled adult mind. The political left certainly has no claim of exclusivity in the use of these two immature defenses, but they are without a doubt the gold medal winners in the American paranoid olympics, and the political right will have to work very hard to ever catch up with them.
Let us compare and contrast for a moment the paranoia of the left versus the paranoia of the right. Recently, Eugene Robinson briefly teetered on the edge of extreme hyperbole, then fell over into it without much resistance when he said:
If there has been a more clinically insane political phenomenon in my lifetime than the "birthers," I've missed it. Is this what our national discourse has come to? Sheer paranoid fantasy?
Jonah Goldberg responded:
Really? Did Robinson miss the 9/11 truthers? This was the movement that insisted the U.S. government was in on, or even orchestrated, the 9/11 attacks. Such theories went from the simply nutty to full-on whackjob bonkers. Some, like former DNC Chair and then-presidential candidate Howard Dean simply entertained the "theory" that Bush was "tipped off" by the Saudis but let 9/11 happen anyway. Some, like Rosy O'Donnell argued that the conspiracy was so advanced that the inside job was “the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel.”
Now, it may be foolish for birthers to assume that Obama's refusal to release the full birth certificate is proof that he's foreign born (as opposed to assuming he's simply trying to gin up a controversy or conceal something else entirely) but is it really more crazy than thinking the United States government orchestrated 9/11?
There was also Michael Moore who insisted that Bush knew where Osama Bin Laden was but the president was simply keeping him on ice (Moore also believed OJ was innocent, for the record). The vast bulk of the left agreed with the Moore vision that Bush always knew there were no WMDs but "lied us into war" for ulterior motives. Those alleged motives varied in outlandishness, to be sure, but for a long while there no theory was crazy enough to earn much scorn from the Olbermanns and Conasons. When Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 opened in DC, Democrats flocked to the premiere, unconcerned with the paranoid delusions and deceits it contained. Click here to see then DNC chair Terry McAuliffe looking gaga as he shakes Moore's hand.
Oh and let's not forget all of the nonsense during, and in the wake of, Hurricane Katrina when several prominent figures made all sorts of crazy statements. Randall Robinson said that blacks — and only blacks — were eating the flesh of the dead almost immediately after the flooding. Spike Lee and others insisted that the levees might have been bombed by the Bush administration in order to kill or scatter black residents of New Orleans. Cynthia McKinney says the American forces rounded up and executed 5,000 "prisoners" and dumped in the swamps of Louisiana.
Meanwhile, the GOP leadership and the vast majority of rightwing and conservative pundits have either rejected or ignored the birther stuff (including Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan). But the GOP is supposed to own it. Democrats, meanwhile, were never held to a remotely similar standard when a far more evil and pervasive bout of paranoia claimed their own party. Funny how that works.
Yes, funny, isn't it?
There has been a series of bizarre conspiracy theories emanating from anxious leftists for the past 8+ years as they have desperately attempted to keep the holes in their ideology plugged; and thus preventing any **reality** from washing over them or flooding their cognitive processes.
Every time a leak in that ideological dike appears, the postmodern-progressive-paranoid chewing gum is brought out to plug it up. The TNG memos were a clever plot by Karl Rove. The Bush Administration was behind 9/11; Katrina was allowed to destroy New Orleans because Bush hates blacks. George Bush is about to impose a theocracy on the unsuspecting U.S. Pat Tillman was murdered because he wanted to meet with anti-war activist Norm Chomsky. Sarah Palin is not the mother of Trig and faked her pregnancy. The list of the paranoid delusions goes on and on and on.
Taken as a whole, they are evidence of an ongoing and determined refusal to face reality--because it is a reality that threatens the belief systm of a very large section of the American population. Without the delusions and conspiracies concocted by the always creative political left, their whole house of Marxist cards will come crumbling down.
Some have said that Unwillingness To Face Reality And Its Consequences is the most serious mental illness of our time; and that is most certainly true.
The bacteria of paranoid stupidity is very easily spread. The infecting agent is usually a true believer who cannot face some unpleasant aspect of reality (i.e. an "unpleasant" or "inconvenient" truth) that is starting to trickle out into the open. It must dammed up immediately. The paranoid gum is handy and easy to use--just chew it up and plaster it over the hole.
For the political left, the gum has created a series of interrelated and connected paranoid theories that link the Bush Administration to anything bad in the world. Obama himself resorts to this technique in practically every speech. His pattern is simple to appreciate: first he courageously takes responsibility for what is happening; then he forcefully reminds of that he inherited the problem and it's not really his fault at all; it's Bush's. Now that's how real "postmodern responsibility" works.
He just neglects to mention that his own party has controlled Congress since 2006--well before the current economic problems became evident. But that's not relevant, is it? Funny how that works.
Just as the Jews serve as the handy scapegoat on which the dysfunctional Arab/Islamic culture in the Middle East can blame all their own societal failures; Conservatives and the political right serve the function of being the source of all evil in American society to the dysfunctional political left. If they did not have a George Bush on which to blame all societies ills, they would have to invent him--or, better yet, insert any current prominent Republican--e.g., Sarah Palin--into the same BDS scapegoat mold; and then transfer all their rage and hostility toward that individual or group. Not to have such a scapegoat on which to project their own inadequacies would mean they would have to question some very basic assumptions about their fantasized superiority.
In making paranoid pronouncements, the paranoid person always takes himself or herself extremely seriously. Rarely does the paranoid person present themselves to a mental health professional seeking help for their paranoia; or even complaining about their psychological projections, no matter how bizarre or dysfunctional they may be. That is because for them, the paranoia and the accompanying projections explain away and rationalize so much about their failures as individuals, ideologies and cultures.
The insane asylum we refer to as the Middle East and all its affiliates in Africa and Indonesia where Islamic delusion runs rampant, have a fully formed paranod fantasy that explains their lack of progress and their dysfunction in the real world. Likewise, the lunatic left also subscribes to their own special convoluted explantions of dysfunction and lack of power. In both cases, if the object of their projections did not exist, they would have to invent them because their world view cannot be held together without the gummy glue of the paranoid fantasies that connect all their dots. To them, the fact that Blackwaters and Halliburtons--or any successful capitalist business exists--is enough to explain their own dysfunction and lack of progress.
Funny, isn't it, how this characteristic and prevalent delusion of the political left perfectly parallels the paranoid delusions of the backward Islamic oountries of the Middle East and their attitude toward the "evil Jews."
If only Israel and the Jews could be "wiped off the map"; or, if only those evil capitalist companies could be "torn up into a thousand pieces and scatter[ed] to the wind" then Islam/Progressivism would be more successful.
Everything can be explained by this kind of paranoid logic. In fact, paranoia is really nothing more than the use of reason and logic in the service of the irrational and bizarre.
- Are you poor? Someone must have robbed you of what you are entitled to!
- Are you angry and experiencing hatred, but like to think of yourself as a loving, compassionate sort of person? Then the object of your hatred magically becomes the one who hates...you!
- Is your genius not universally recognized? You must have powerful enemies that prevent you from achieving the success you know should be yours.
- Have you made mistakes in your life? Someone has clearly tricked you into acting a certain way otherwise you wouldn't have.
The above mental gymnastics allow the paranoid person to externalize blame and avoid responsibility for his situation in life, as well as his own feelings. It is always someone else's fault and not his. It is always someone else who is experiencing the objectionable feelings, and he is always the victim of it.
In addition to externalizing blame for one's own pitiful situation in life, there is yet another advantage to paranoia and projection: very often, a creative distortion of reality can reliably pump up one's own self-esteem! You are the righteous; persecuting the true racists thus proving you, yourself, are incapable of any racist thoughts or emotions! Aren't you wonderful?
Sometimes, it pumps it that self-esteem up at the expense of a great deal of fear; but nevertheless, it is comforting to know that someone appreciates your genius or the threat you represent. Clearly if the CIA, FBI, aliens, Jews , POTUS, Republicans, Business/capitalism, Big Oil [--fill in your favorite bogeyman here--] are out to get you, you must be very special and unique indeed.
In short, paranoia and its baby brother projection organize and distort reality in a way that makes it palatable; and, at the same time help the user to avoid recognizing some unpleasant truths about himself. When practiced on a societal or cultural level, it accomplishes the same thing on a larger scale. All you have to do is eliminate the external problem and everything will be all right and you'll never have to question your beliefs--or say you are sorry-- again.
The typical con artist does this consciously and deliberately and understands the effectiveness of the psychological maneuver. Con artists come in all sorts of political stripes, of course, but the left is far more prone to this sort of immoral maneuver because they have an intense need to appear virtuous. A con artist that I am personally familiar with, in fact, once astutely commented that the difference between leftists and conservatives is that leftists think they are "better people"; while conservatives think they have "better ideas." In this, as in so many ways, the left is like a typical shame culture where the appearance of virtue is far more important than actually being viruous.
Reality is always redrawn in order to pump up their own righteousness and virtue. Anyone who opposes their policies is automatically branded as racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic-- take your pick, depending on the circumstances.
Hell, anyone who offers ANY new ideas in these areas are automatically branded with one of the "isms".
It is useless to point out the truth to people in the grip of these kind of paranoid delusions. It is just so easy to attribute one's own cynical motives and unacceptable feelings to others, particularly when such attribution is culturally sanctioned.
It is inconceivable to paranoid persons that people actually exist who view the situation differently from them. It is inconceivable that they could be wrong about their perception of reality. Con men always think others are out to con them. In fact, most paranoids consider themselves the ONLY reality-based community, because they get to define what reality is and it is always what they happen to feel. And it is always about making sure they feel good and virtuous and self-righteous.
Paranoia and projection also provide a rationale and justification (to the paranoid, at least) for acting out against those who--from their perspective-- stand in the way of implementing their social programs; or will not submit to the will of their god (whoever and whatever it may be).
Oh, and by the way: DO NOT make the mistake of thinking that only psychiatric patients who have a serious mental illness utilize these defense mechanisms. Paranoia is a symptom of many mental illnesses; but both paranoia and projection are also physiological states of the brain that can be achieved by otherwise "normal" people under the proper circumstances. The distortion of reality that occurs with the use of these defenses is always done to serve inner psychological needs.
Paranoia and projection as psychological defenses used by otherwise normal people are not mental illnesses that can be "cured" by mass quantities of antipsychotic medication in the water supply. Instead, they represent a distortion of reality that occurs in order to meet the inner needs of a crumbling self (or a crumbling ideology, culture, or society) that cannot otherwise be psychologically sustained.
To those who are using such a defense, their behavior and rhetoric seem perfectly logical and internally consistent. It is, in fact, as impeccable as any reasoning can be--considering that it originates from distorted premises. Paranoia has been referred to as "the rational in the service of the irrational" for good reasons.
And, by that kind of "logic" it makes perfect sense to use the maximum force possible to destroy those who the paranoid believes are responsible for the evil: e.g., all those absurd conspiracies that are wholeheartedly supported by the left that claim Bush and Cheney downed the twin towers; and have those who oppose them murdered. All those absurd theories that the Israelis created a disease that is specific to Arab genes or that the fictional Protocols are behind the lack of Nobel Prizes for Muslims; or even that the genocide in Darfur is just another Jewish conspiracy. These kind of paranoid fantasies all comes from the same psychological source.
As long as they maintain those delusions, they do not have to deal with the sad state of their own culture; their own sick religion; or their pathetic ideological inadequacies.
The "Birther" conspiracy could have been put to rest long ago if Obama had practiced what he preached about "transparency" and had released the long-form of his birth certificate; or if Obama had released ANY of his past records from college and law school--which, of course, he never did and thus his history remains murky and opaque without much external validation to this day. Nor did a profoundly uncurious media make any attempt to fill in the blanks of his opaque history (except to take him at his word). Instead of seeing the story as one of Obama's lack of transparency and neurotic obsession with keeping possibly deleterious aspects of his past secret and hidden from view (which naturally makes reasonable people question what there is to hide), the media still believe the REAL story is presenting even the most reasonable of questioners about that lack of transparancy as delusional.
Granted that there may indeed be a few who will never let the truth stand in the way of their delusion that Barack Obama/Barry Soetero is not a real US citizen; how pray tell is that somehow orders of magnitude more serious than the 9/11 "Truthers" who can never be convinced that Bush and Cheney were the evil behind the attacks on 9/11?
I said in a post just before the 2008 election that I didn't expect that an Obama win would "heal" the fundamental psychopathological and paranoid defect that drives the political left and their postmodern progressivism. On the contrary, it is clear that winning has only further hardened the baseline projection and paranoia and extended the delusions and conspiracies about all who continue to disagree with them.
After all, they now have to explain why their policies are making things worse, instead of better. And they will need a lot of scapegoats to accomplish that job.
Probably at least 50% of the population, in fact.
**NOTE: Coulter call the progressive left "liberals", but I won't give them that title, since I am a classical liberal and don't believe they deserve or are entitled to the label. To me they are "progressive" or "leftist"; which are both synonymous as far as I'm concerned with the term "collectivist."