The Narcissism of Capital

I don’t agree with everything in this article (I don’t think capitalism is a bad thing if it’s kept under control with regulations and checks and balances), but I still really like the author’s comparison of capitalism with narcissism. He’s not wrong, especially in his observation that people with high levels of narcissism, even fullblown NPD, tend to be attracted to careers that reward with power and wealth.  This is why CEOs and top executives of multinational corporations, and politicians are so much more likely to have psychopathic or narcissistic traits than the “proles” (the rest of us).

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O Society

by Mawr Gorshin Infinite Ocean edited by O Society Mar 13, 2019

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime
Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Introduction

Analysis of the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight, leads to a recognition of ‘political gaslighting.’

In abusive interpersonal relationships, the abuser fabricates, denies, and distorts the truth to disorient the victim. The super-rich, as well as the politicians and the media who work for them, also do this lying and disorienting, but to the public as a whole.

We all know how emotional abuse can happen in families, school, the workplace, and online: psychological abuse on the ‘micro’ level. Now, let’s discuss it on the ‘macro’ level, how it exists on the geopolitical level, for this is, no doubt, a far greater problem.

Many parallels are seen in the comparison of narcissistic abuse and class conflict. Donald Trump is as obvious a narcissist as he is a…

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Don’t Be a Sucker (full film)

This was an educational film released in 1945, at the end of World War II, after Hitler and the Nazi Party had been defeated.

Watch and listen carefully, and notice the similarities in the rhetoric to Trump’s rallies and speeches.

We fought against fascism back then, and we won.   There is no place for fascism and neo-Naziism (white supremacy) in America today, and none of us should tolerate it.

I hate living in a country where so many people think my son is abomination who deserves to die.

prideparade

Pride Parade, New York City, 2019

Just this past week, I read this and this (a video of Fritts’ disgusting sermon calling for the execution of LGBTQ people is linked in the article, if you can stand to watch it).   I felt literally sick to my stomach after reading these articles (and watching that awful video) and almost had to vomit.

Fritts, the homophobic police officer, has since been relieved of his duties, but it’s the first article that’s really disturbing.   A group of “Christian” preachers are having a “Make America Straight Again” event in Orlando, Florida, in response to “Pride Week.”    Last I heard, free speech was still legal in America, so of course people have the right to express homophobic opinions.  But what’s really chilling is that one of the preachers leading the event is praying for violence against the LGBTQ community during their Pride events being held in the same city!   Not only that, but several of the scheduled speakers will be speaking about their belief in the mass extermination of LGBTQ people.   That sounds like something the Nazis or some of the Middle Eastern countries under Sharia Law would do.  It chills me to the bone that this sort of thing is becoming increasingly acceptable and normalized here in America.

What kind of person prays for violence or even death against a group that isn’t violent themselves, but who merely have a lifestyle some believe is sinful?   A person full of hate and violence, that’s who.  Certainly not a follower of Christ.

These are far from the only incidents of blatant homophobia infiltrating the law and politics in this country.  Like everything else that’s bad and rotten, it’s gotten worse under Trump.   He emboldens homophobia, misogyny, and racism, partly because of his hatred for these groups of people, but it’s also a big part of his efforts to appease the religious right, who apparently believe Trump is their magic genie.  They feed his massive ego by diefying him and telling him he’s anointed by God and above the law,  and he gives them what they want.   Easy peasy.   It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Trump gives the religious right what they want, and it has nothing to do with him being somehow “God’s chosen” or caring about “morality.”   Trump’s lifestyle has been and continues to be one of the most immoral (or is it amoral?) I’ve ever seen, and he’s never shown an ounce of repentance.  He’s a hypocrite who does whatever gives him power and wealth.  The only fruit he bears is rotten.

finepeople

True morality isn’t about what women do with their bodies or what gender you’re allowed to love anyway.  It’s about the way you treat others.  I’m sure Jesus would agree.  Every day he showed the most vulnerable people and the marginalized nothing but kindness and acceptance, including the sinners.   It was the dominionists of his time — the wealthy and powerful Pharisees who demanded strict obedience in the name of God — that he condemned.

My son is gay.  He is also one of the kindest, sweetest, funniest people I have ever known.  He has brought so much joy to my life, and the lives of his friends.    He is a wonderful, talented, and intelligent human being who is empathetic,  has never hurt anyone else intentionally, and who also, like many gay people, struggled emotionally with his sexual identity before he was able to “come out.”

I don’t believe being gay is a choice.  No one just wakes up one morning and says, “Gee, I think I want to be gay” (or bi, or transgender, or what have you).  I don’t think a gay person can be “cured” any more than a tiger can change its stripes.   To think there are so many hateful people in this country — including people with enough political power to change laws — who want him dead or think he’s an abomination because of his sexual preference fills me with existential dread.   Now that these homophobic nutjobs have been emboldened by Trump’s “war on political correctness” and open hatred, and his shameless pandering to the religious right in exchange for their financial support and deification of him,  I’m actually becoming terrified for my son’s safety.

There are dominionist politicians high in government right now who are packing the courts with far right judges willy nilly, and I’m afraid they may well succeed in their efforts to turn America into a theocracy ruled by biblical (Old Testament) law (the “Christian” version of Sharia law).  I hope that if the United States continues in the dark direction it seems to be headed, my son can find a way to leave the country.  In the meantime, I pray for his safety.  America no longer feels safe.

I can’t tell the difference.

 

migrantscolor

Above is a photo from AP News showing Central American migrant families rounded up and contained by US armed guards.   According to the accompanying news story, the federal government is making plans to separate children from their parents (yes, they plan to continue and even increase this horrendous and cruel practice) and house the children in former army barracks.   They are also planning to cut off or reduce all supportive services to these children, including English language lessons, recreational programs, legal services (young children as young as two have already been forced to represent themselves in court), and other services such as mental health counseling — at a time when the children are traumatized by family separation and need it most.

Not cruel enough for you?  Oh, it gets even worse:  border patrol agents are being instructed to confiscate migrant childrens’ medicine.

The cruelty, as it’s been said, is the point.   This is what happens when a narcissistic sociopath and his same spectrum sycophants and henchmen consolidate power and inevitably, as they always do, choose scapegoats (always vulnerable or marginalized populations) on which to unleash their hatred.

The photograph shocked me.   All the photographs from our southern border are  shocking, but this one stood out to me because I was immediately reminded of the old black and white photos from Nazi Germany of SS guards rounding up Jewish families like cattle (and of course separating parents from children, a common practice by the Nazis, which was harrowingly depicted in the movie Sophie’s Choice when the title character played by Meryl Streep was forced to choose between her young daughter being taken away or losing both of her children). 

This is fascism, in case there’s any doubt.  We are living in a fascist state with a fascist leader, and just as in Nazi Germany,  most people are either too afraid or too apathetic to mobilize against it.   Or they’re in denial and don’t think it’s that big a threat.  Or…they approve of it (usually justifying it with callous comments such as “they shouldn’t have come here” or “it’s a deterrent.”)

Okay, fine.  Let’s say you don’t care about the fact these are mostly poor families who walked thousands of miles to escape certain death in their home countries (not the “rapists, drug dealers, and gangs” who find other ways to get in).   Even if the parents are culpable (which they aren’t),  what about the children?  Did they have any choice in the matter?

The Germans were exactly like us.   As with Trump, only about a third of the German people actually supported Hitler, while the other two thirds either didn’t believe there was a real threat or saw the threat but didn’t think there was anything they could do.   Only a few people, such as Sophie Scholl and her resistance group The White Rose Society, dared to speak truth to power.   Hitler and the Nazis would never have been able to rise to power or killed six million Jews (and other marginalized groups such as Gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally deficient) had the German people believed the threat was real and mobilized to fight back against it.  They learned the hard way, and now it looks as if we may have to learn the hard way too, unless we mobilize and fight this evil right now.   We are running out of time.

I’m astonished and dismayed by how little mobilization against encroaching fascism there has been in this country.  How few protests and marches.  People just shrug their shoulders, turn off the news, and go on with their lives as if nothing has changed in the past two and a half years.   Even the British turned out by the millions to protest Trump last week during his visit to the UK, and he’s not even their president!   We should be ashamed of ourselves.  Why are we letting another country do our work for us?    Are we really just a bunch of sheep?  Are we really going to idly stand by and look the other way while children and their families are being tortured and allowed to languish and die in the American version of Nazi concentration camps?

Below are two groups of photographs, each group containing the above photograph rendered in black and white and placed next to similar photographs from Nazi Germany to emphasize the fact there is literally no difference in the plight of the captives.   I can honestly say I had trouble telling which photograph was the recent one.

If these photographs bother you, good. They should.

Can you tell the difference?

migrantsb&w2

Montage credit: Jackie Starke

Credit: Jackie Starke

migrantsb&w1

Montage credit: Jackie Starke

Things are getting really scary.

wearenotok

There’s a reason why I haven’t posted in so long.   My PTSD is at full bore and I can’t focus. I can’t write because my ability to concentrate is shot.   I seem less able to cope with problems as they come up.  I feel constantly on edge.   My anxiety is unrelenting; it keeps me up at night and darkens my days.  I’m often on the verge of tears, and frequently close to white hot rage.    Getting through each day feels like a herculean accomplishment, but there’s no attendant pleasure in a job well done.   Life is more burdensome and the future seems very dark.

There have been problems involving my daughter and addiction again.  That’s bad enough, but I’d be able to cope with that more easily if my country wasn’t collapsing into so much rubble.   Lately, the destruction seems to be accelerating and the things that are happening are becoming more nightmarish and blatantly oppressive.  America has become a place I no longer recognize.

It’s not just Trump.   It’s the fascist patriarchy the Trumpian-retooled GOP has become.  Because of Trump, it has become a party run by a group of  all-white, almost exclusively male sociopaths who despise people of color, non-Christians, Democrats, LGBTQ, migrant children — and women.   Perhaps women most of all.   Their misogyny seems to have no bottom.

The slew of abortion bans attempting to overturn a law that has been in place for 46 years is clear evidence of how much this group hates women.    I don’t care how you feel about abortion, or what your religious views are, the federal government has no business making rules about what should be a personal decision between a woman and her doctor (and in some cases her husband or partner).    The fact that two states made no exceptions for rape and incest, even if it’s a child raped by a relative, proves to me the patriarchy cares nothing about preserving life, or about a woman’s emotional or physical health, but about oppressing women and girls.    The GOP is reminding me more and more of the Taliban.    How much longer until they start making laws mandating restrictive clothing?  How much longer until we are told what we can own and how much money we can have?   How much longer until we lose our right to vote?

The hypocrisy of these men (and a few women) is astounding.  This group is anything but pro-life, judging by their callous and cruel treatment of migrant families and children, their blithe lack of concern about the endless school shootings, their neverending attempts to take away our healthcare (including making pregnancy and even just being a woman a preexisting condition), their contempt for laws that protect our environment, and their unmitigated greed, hunger for power, and lack of empathy.

This is why our founding fathers wrote the separation of church and state into the Constitution.  Mixing religion and government never leads to anything good.  It corrupts both, and theocracies are without exception violent, hellish places to live, especially for women and people who deviate from the governing religion.  One only needs to look at some of the Middle Eastern countries or medieval Europe to see how bad things can get.  Here in America today, we have a group of fundamentalist evangelical Christians who have way too much power and who wish to replace the Constitution with biblical law.  They appear to be succeeding in their efforts so far.  Such an outcome seemed unthinkable at the time of Trump’s election.

We are falling behind other developed nations in every way.   As they move forward into the future, we are becoming an oppressive backwater, a country resembling a repressive Middle Eastern theocracy or a violent banana republic more than a forward looking democracy.    There’s been an uptick in police brutality, and no one does anything about it.   We have a president who chose an attorney general to be his personal lawyer and “fixer” instead of representing the People.  Trump stomps all over our Constitution and the rule of law.  He and his sycophants break the law on a daily basis and are never held accountable.     There are no checks and balances anymore, and the Democratic Congress seems weak and ineffectual, unable or unwilling to contain Trump’s destructive impulses.

No one wants to come here anymore.   On social media, I have heard people from other countries say they have cancelled trips to America because they are too afraid.  I don’t blame them.   There is much to be afraid of.   People who are able to are leaving, especially the young, who rightly see no future here.

I have a terrible feeling about where this country is going that I will leave unsaid.  But I think anyone who is awake and aware sees what’s coming.

We ar running out of time.  We must rise up because no one is coming to save us.    If we don’t, we are complicit in our own destruction.

From bullshit jobs to bullshit help – a lack of basic security

I have to admit I agree with this article. Life has become too stressful for too many people, unless you’re rich.  The title may offend some, but I think it’s accurate.

Why are people being forced to adapt to a sick (and dying) system that favors only the wealthy, rather than the system itself being adapted to serve us?

Especially in America, capitalism has taken a dark turn toward fascism and even neo-feudalism (authoritarianism in either of these forms is actually a sign of end-stage capitalism — the final culmination of unregulated capitalism, with the rich not bound to the laws the rest of us are, and a dangerous lack of governmental checks and balances).  Neither form of end-stage capitalism is conducive to or compatible with human happiness or even simple contentment.

Yet we keep being told there’s something wrong with us if we can’t adapt and feel stressed out all the time.   We’re told to just smile and think positive thoughts, and everything will be hunky dory.   We spout shallow platitudes at each other and stick post-its with flowery affirmations on our bathroom mirrors.    But the stress never really goes away.

Why?  Because the truth is, the stress we feel is a normal reaction to the abnormal. Nothing about our system is normal or healthy for real human beings, and it needs to change.  All the sunny advice we are given and all the positive affirmations are nothing more than emotional Bandaids for our existential malaise.  They can’t and never will fix the underlying problem which none of us can fix as individuals, but must be addressed by the entire society working together for the common good.

A View From Askew

David Graeber has put forward the notion of bullshit jobs in recent years, and I highly recommend that you watch his interviews and lectures on the subject. However there is another bullshit trend happening…

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The most chilling book I have ever read (book review: Democracy in Chains)

This is a book everyone who cares about saving democracy in America needs to read, so I’m reposting this review I wrote in September 2017.

If you do read it, don’t expect to get much sleep. It’s as scary as anything Stephen King ever wrote, but is based on extensive research. I have seen some of its predictions come to pass, and so have you.

A similar book is Dark Money by Jane Meyer. I have read that too, even though I didn’t review it.

Lucky Otters Haven

democracyinchains

I just finished reading Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy McLean.    This book was as creepy as anything Stephen King ever wrote, but it isn’t a horror novel or even fiction.   It’s a well-researched expose of how America lost its way — and it started a lot earlier than you thought.   It also wasn’t an accident.  Everything up to and including public attitudes about democracy and the rightward shift of both parties was planned down to the smallest detail decades ago.

It all started innocuously enough with an ultra-conservative economist named James McGill Buchanan in the early 1950s.    Buchanan was a libertarian who believed that the New Deal, labor unions, and the social safety net were assaults on true freedom  (to him and others like him, “freedom” meant the right of property owners to keep all…

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Institutionalized soul murder.

handmaids-tale

“If you’ve been following me for some time now, you’ve likely noticed the absence of optimism & hope. While my wife is at work, and my son is in school, I just cry. I’m trying to hide it from them, but they know. I just want to leave this country before I’m destroyed.”  — Twitter user

If you think statements like this are unusual, I can assure you they are not.

Several days ago, Jussie Smollet, “Empire” actor, singer, director, and photographer, was brutally attacked by a couple of Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats (the new KKK hood).  The assailants tied a rope around the man’s neck, yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, and poured bleach on him.    As the assailants left, they yelled “It’s MAGA country now.”   Smollet’s injuries were severe enough to require hospitalization.  This was a hate crime and most likely an attempted lynching.   Trump is doing everything he can to turn back the clock to the Jim Crow days, and we are almost there.

Indeed, Trump emboldens such violent attacks because of his hateful, racist, misogynistic, and neofascist rhetoric, especially at his rallies.   His hostile and bullying bluster contains obvious “dogwhistles” to his supporters, letting them know that attacking or bullying people who are different than they are is just fine in Trump’s America.

Not long before the Smollet attack, four good samaritans left food and water near the Mexican border for tired, hungry migrants (who are almost all women and children, not the caravans of violent MS-13 gang members and drug dealers Trump keeps screaming about).   Police arrested the kindhearted samaritans, and charged all four of them with misdemeanors!   Why misdemeanors?  For showing empathy?  That’s insane.

Meanwhile, homegrown terrorists, neo-Nazis, and high school racists are invited to the White House, are interviewed on TV, and sometimes treated like heroes–or at least their actions are dismissed as “boys will be boys” or “well, some of them are very fine people.”

A Trump supporting politician named Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter last year for asking him questions.  He  was held up as a hero for attacking a journalist, and even won his state election, while the injured reporter was vilified as an “enemy of the people.”   (Gianforte later apologized).

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who very believably and painfully described the way she had been  sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh, was told she was lying by Fox News pundits and Trump’s sycophants.   She was then mocked cruelly by Trump himself at one of his rallies (after Ford said the most painful part of the assault had been the way Kavanaugh and his friends mocked her — I’m sure this was not a coincidence).  Ford’s testimony was dismissed as a bunch of lies, while Kavanaugh, clearly temperamentally unsuited to serve on the Supreme Court, was painted by Trump and the GOP as some sort of misunderstood victim who was being unfairly attacked by lying, spiteful women who just wanted their 15 minutes of fame.   He now sits on the Supreme Court.

Central American children and their parents escaping certain death in their home countries, instead of being instructed in how to apply for asylum (these families are showing up legally at ports of entry) are being caged and forcibly separated from each other by ICE and border patrol agents, then tossed into concentration camps with only a foil blanket for warmth and inadequate food and medical care.   Two children have died in these camps. Unbelievably,  some evangelical Republicans are actually calling these cruel actions “biblical.”  Meanwhile, Democrats and others wanting to see the children reunited with their families and treated with kindness and empathy are dismissed as misguided or even evil.  We are gaslighted and told we just want “open borders,” but that too is a lie.

Undocumented immigrant families are released from detention at a bus depot in McAllen

Photo by Loren Elliott/Reuters

In “The Handmaid’s Tale,”  there is a scene where one of the girls is severely punished and returns with her feet bleeding and barely able to walk.  The other girls feel empathy for her, but don’t dare show it, because if they do, they too will be punished.   The same thing was also practiced in the migrant camps at the border, where siblings and other children were ordered not to hold or comfort each other, even after having been separated from their parents.   I don’t know whether or not they were punished if they broke the rules, but the fact such a rule exists is concerning.  It’s institutionalized cruelty.

There’s a reason for this besides just being cruel.  It’s an effective way populations can be controlled.  If you don’t allow people to comfort or show empathy to each other, they won’t rise up or try to overthrow their oppressors.   Hitler and other dictators were  known for doing this.  It’s also a way to fast track the destruction of human beings.   Don’t allow them any hope or comfort.   It’s an effective form of emotional torture.

concentrationcampww2

Meanwhile, cruelty is rewarded and applauded.  At the very least, it seems to be tolerated a lot more than it used to be.

Our values have been turned inside and twisted beyond recognition by a group of men (and a few women) whose only goal is absolute power.  Evil is now good, and good is evil.  Lies are the truth, and the truth is fake news.   Kindness and empathy are now bad and diabolical, cruelty and violence are godly and good.  Truthtellers are silenced, and liars are given a voice.

War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.  — George Orwell (1984)

The people having the hardest time under the Trump regime aren’t necessarily the poor (as difficult or even impossible as their lives are), but people with high sensitivity, high empathy, high creativity, and people who are critical, independent thinkers.    This regime is threatened by all those things, just as narcissistic parents are threatened and scapegoat the most sensitive, empathetic child or the child who speaks the truth and exposes the family’s dark secrets.

I have heard many people say that since Trump became president,  they feel constantly on edge, suicidal, depressed, cry every day,  have lost interest in things that once interested them, feel like they can no longer cope, want to leave the country, are constantly afraid, feel constantly angry, isolate from others, feel sick all the time, or feel dead and numb inside.  These are all indications of PTSD and C-PTSD.  Trump and his sociopathic, cruel regime has triggered or retriggered these disorders in many (if not most) Americans, but it’s the sensitive, empathic, and creative, artistic types of people who are suffering the most, and are least able to thrive under an oppressive, authoritarian regime.   At the same time, these are the same people who are most likely to be the truthtellers  and whistleblowers we need so badly right now.

What the Trump GOP is doing is institutionalized soul murder.

Enough.

The Year of Fascism: Ten Lessons We Should Learn from 2018

fascistamerica

I just finished an article that is both profoundly depressing and profoundly eye opening.    I won’t summarize it here.  Just read it.   I think the writer (Umar Haque) nailed what happened to us in a way no one else has.

Fascism came to America in 2018.  And most of us still won’t admit it.  We still think, “it can’t happen here.”  But it already has.   Until we admit we have become a fascist nation, things will continue to get even worse.

The cure for fascism is almost ridiculously simple: restore the middle class.  There’s a simple way to do this.  But will America ever admit it failed its middle class and humble itself enough to do what needs to be done to restore the middle class?  I wonder.

The Year of Fascism; 10 Lessons We Should Learn From 2018 

The Narcissism of Capital

Here is an incredibly insightful post I wish I’d written. The author explains how unregulated, uncontrolled capitalism and the societal abuse and cruelty inherent in such a political system (America is such a society) is actually an abusive, predatory relationship taken to the macro level, with the callous, corrupt, and often cruel leaders standing in for narcissistic parents and other abusers. I’ve made this same connection myself in some of my own articles about Trump, authoritarianism, and malignant narcissism/sociopathy, but this article seems to explain it even better than I could.

Before you read the article though, let me point out that I use a less broad brush to paint the politicians the author names as narcissists or sociopaths. For example, while Hillary Clinton and Obama certainly have narcissistic traits (which are probably necessary to be successful in politics or be taken seriously in such a high profile endeavor), I do not believe either of them is a sociopath or a malignant narcissist. If they are narcissists (and they may well be), they are of the more benign type. Obama in particular has shown he possesses at least normal levels of empathy, which I don’t think is faked. In my memory, the only president I can recall who was definitely not a narcissist was Jimmy Carter. Because of that, he wasn’t a very effective president, even though he was an unusually good person.

Infinite Ocean

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Introduction

In my analysis of the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight, I discussed something I called ‘political gaslighting‘: in abusive interpersonal relationships, the abuser fabricates, denies, and distorts the truth to disorient the victim; I argued how the super-rich, as well as the politicians and the media who work for them, also do this lying and disorienting, but to the public. I’d like to expand on those ideas here.

We all know about how emotional abuse can happen in families, school, the workplace, and online; that’s psychological abuse on the ‘micro’ level. Now, let’s discuss it on the ‘macro’ level, how it exists on the geopolitical level, for this is, no doubt, a far greater problem.

Many parallels can be seen in the comparison of narcissistic abuse and class conflict. The fact that Donald Trump is as obvious a narcissist as…

View original post 3,053 more words