Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Triumphs of the American Sense of Life

“Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. . . . I hope [they] will see through this charade” (Senator Lindsey Graham, Kavanaugh Hearing: Transcript, September 27, 2018).

Fortunately, the American people have seen through the sham and charade, but those holding and seeking additional power continue their campaigns to gain more.

Is the American sense of life strong enough to slow down and defeat the leftists’ rabid—and rapid—march toward dictatorship?

I have written in earlier posts (1, 2) that our current president won his election two years ago by tapping into what Ayn Rand calls the American sense of life. He did not, and still does not, condescend toward the “deplorables” of middle America. He respects them, and unlike many (most?) politicians, is straightforward and honest with them.

Sense of life is a composite emotional sum of who each one of us is as a person. It consists of what Edith Packer calls our core evaluations, as well as our level of self-esteem. It expresses our view of ourselves and our attitudes toward other people and the world in general (Lectures on Psychology, loc. 180-86, Kindle).

Ayn Rand describes sense of life as a “pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics,” “a generalized feeling about existence . . . with the compelling motivational power of a constant, basic emotion—an emotion which is part of all [our] other emotions and underlies all [our] experiences” (The Romantic Manifesto, pp. 25-26).

Sense of life is what an artist projects in a work of art and what patrons of the arts respond to. It is also what one does or does not fall in love with in a member of the opposite sex and what one initially likes or dislikes in another person.

An astute observer of emotions might notice that one person is “eaten up with envy” and another “really loves life and is at ease with himself” (Packer’s examples). These are descriptions of the two individuals’ senses of life. It is possible and not uncommon for individuals to hold contradictory core evaluations and therefore a contradictory sense of life.

A nation is a sum or average of its individual citizens’ values and behavior, which means a country’s sense of life can be identified, albeit not easily, and described based on its citizens’ dominant traits and emotional expressions.

Ayn Rand identifies the dominant American sense of life as essentially individualistic and hardworking, with fundamental values placed on achievement, initiative, effort, earning your own way, genuineness, a strong reality orientation, and a defiance of authority. Typical Americanisms that describe the sense of life are “you can’t push me around” and “my money’s as good as the next fella’s” (Philosophy: Who Needs It, chap. 18).

The American sense of life insists on the right to the pursuit of happiness and Americans generally are happy and optimistic—happier and more optimistic than the citizens of many, perhaps all, other nations in the world. The American sense of life represents the freedom, accomplishments, and well-deserved benefits of capitalism, while most of the rest of the world is mired in varying degrees of statism and dictatorship, including abject poverty.

This American sense of life, therefore, is best (though certainly not exclusively) represented by the so-called deplorable dregs of society, the ones who live in flyover country and are mocked by the bi-coastal elites, especially those members of the communist-fascist left and their sycophantic followers. The elites, which include most college professors and the condescendingly leftist press, derive their sense of life from European intellectuals and aristocrats. They do not share the same sense of life as the “deplorables,” or at least in the same degree.

The “deplorables” are the ones who voted for our current president in 2016 and supported his program and candidates in the recent midterm election. The elites are the ones who labeled, and continue to label, anyone who exhibits the American sense of life a racist and a bigot.

If we go back a few decades in our political history, we can see the American sense of life in operation in several presidential campaigns. In 1964, the press and leftist elites, for example, were beside themselves when someone like Senator Barry Goldwater could win the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, especially after their incessantly relentless charges of racism and bigotry against the senator and anyone who supported him. Sound familiar?

At that time, Ayn Rand commented on the press’s loss of respect and influence, as well as their considerable myopia and the criteria they must have been using to report the news: “It is as if newsmen, with ‘their ears to the ground,’ had heard everything except an earthquake in full progress.”*

It was their leftist (and European) anti-American sense of life that clashed with that of the deplorables and prevented them from seeing (or feeling) the earthquake. Unfortunately, Goldwater’s subsequent campaign collapsed in anti-intellectualism, causing him to lose by a landslide.**

In 1972, however, the American people were offered explicit socialism in the form of Senator George McGovern. His opponent, the less-than-inspiring Richard Nixon, won forty-nine states. The American sense of life spoke—against McGovern, not for Nixon.

Later expressions of the American sense of life can be seen in the Reagan years and, less enthusiastically, in the years of the two Bushes. The sense of life came back in 2016 and also this year, though not nearly as strongly as the previous years, especially 1972.

The problem with a sense of life is that it is an emotion and emotions are not infallible, nor are they permanent, especially as new generations are educated in the anti-capitalist government-run schools and constantly confronted with the ferocious onslaught of leftist propaganda.

If the American sense of life is not articulated explicitly in terms of philosophy, economics, and psychology, it cannot survive—especially in today’s postmodern Orwellian climate of doublespeak and deliberately chaotic disingenuousness.

The American people and their sense of life have thus far heeded Senator Graham’s call not to fall for the shams and charades of the left. The American people also have not fallen for the Soviet tactic of condemning as “mentally incompetent” both Senator Graham and Judge Kavanaugh for their angry and correctly expressed moral indignation at the left’s flagrantly unjust and dishonest attempt to prevent the judge’s confirmation.

No, our current president is not perfect, though he is committed to defending the American way of life, flawed as his conception may be. He is the best public figure to come along in many years to express the sense life.

Intellectual articulation of that American sense of life is available in the works of Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, George Reisman, and Edith Packer. These fundamental ideas urgently need to be read, discussed, and understood—and taught in universities, which unfortunately is not likely to happen for some time—then expanded upon so they may trickle down to the press and politicians.

And to the “deplorables.”

Those who feel the American sense of life understand emotionally what the American way of life stands for. They need to understand it intellectually.


* “‘Extremism’ or The Art of Smearing,” The Objectivist Newsletter, September, 1964. This section on the media was deleted from the article’s reprint in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (chap. 17).

** The European sense of life, says Rand, sees oneself as fundamentally a servant of the state. Europeans, generally and in contrast to Americans, worship the state and consider it an honor to work in the government. “If you told a [European],” says Rand, “that his life is an end in itself, he would feel insulted or rejected or lost.”

Postscript. Small detail can sometimes capture differences between national senses of life. A charming anecdote I would often tell my students when discussing cultural differences comes from Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini, in Brian Lamb’s Booknotes interview on C-SPAN in 2002 (at 00:17:04 in the video). When asking a question, said Severgnini, of an Italian, a Brit, a German, and an American, he would get the following responses (my paraphrase): the Italian would answer with another question, the Brit would tell a joke, the German would give a little essay, but the American would give an answer. Elsewhere in the interview, Severgnini commented on how Americans love competition, because they do not mind losing. It just means they try harder the next time. In Italy, he said, losing, especially failing at a business, means you are labeled for life as a loser.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

That Heaven on Earth Called Socialism Is Elitist Totalitarian Violence and Destruction: The Modern Jacobins Promote It through Deception and Fraud in Their Continued War against Capitalism

“The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”

This revealing statement is attributed to a member of the radical 1960’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), in David Horowitz’s pamphlet “Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model” (p. 9).

The saying is and has always been the guiding principle of leftists going back at least to Marx and Lenin, and probably to the Jacobin leader, Robespierre, of the French terror in 1793-94. Lenin, after all, was an admirer of Robespierre, calling him a “Bolshevik before his time.”

Put in cliché terms, the statement says, “The end justifies the means.”

Horowitz elaborates the meaning of the SDSer’s statement: “In other words the cause—whether inner city blacks or women—is never the real cause, but only an occasion to advance the real cause which is the accumulation of power to make the revolution” (p. 8).

This is the gospel of Saul Alinsky, Marxist teacher of our former president and his secretary of state. Our former president, of course, said on the eve of his election that his goal was to fundamentally transform American society. Alinsky denied that he was a Marxist, but that is also part of his gospel because facts don’t matter in revolutions.*

To elaborate Horowitz’s elaboration of the SDS statement, Marx and Machiavelli were too timid. Revolution is war and in war deception and fraud are justified; lying, cheating, ritual defamation (character assassination), smears, intimidation, threats, psychological terror, sit-ins and other obstructions, and, if you can get away with it, assault, battery, and more serious forms of violence, all should be part of your arsenal.

If one cause is not successful in securing power, immediately promote another one. And then another, and another. Be relentless. The enemy is naïve and will not believe that what they are facing is naked dishonesty. And the enemy is anyone who disagrees with you, especially anyone who promotes the values of Western civilization, namely individual rights, political freedom, and capitalism.

Now this “Alinsky model” of revolution is still consistent with Marx and the communists. David Horowitz has written extensively on the subject, largely because he was a red-diaper baby and himself a communist sympathizer for many years, but has since become a conservative.

Horowitz’s parents were members of the American Communist Party, but never admitted it in public. They preferred to call themselves progressives. The Communist Party explicitly promoted this kind of deception.

The Communist magazine in 1937 urged teachers who were Party members to teach Marxism and Leninism in every class, but never let anyone know that they were communists. Teachers “must take advantage of their positions, without exposing themselves,” and they must “inject [Marxism-Leninism] into their teaching at the least risk of exposure and at the same time conduct struggles around the school in a truly Bolshevik manner” (quoted in Sidney Hook, Out of Step, p. 499, Hook’s italics omitted).

Facts don’t matter because lying and putting on a front are the essential requirements for winning revolutions. In today’s political climate, this means that opponents are viewed literally as evil monsters who must be defeated and destroyed at all cost, which includes making up whatever will sound good and succeed.

This, too, is consistent with the Marxist/Leninist/communist mantra. When it is opportune, leftists, whether old or new, will not hesitate to call themselves advocates of democracy, freedom, reason, and justice, and then denigrate, or rather, smear, their opponents as the opposite, usually in the vilest terms they can find. Today, in particular, they like to call themselves liberals and progressives and their opponents fascists or Nazis.

Of course, by “justice” they mean “social justice,” which is the opposite, and obfuscation, of giving each person his or her due. “Social justice” means taking wealth (legal plunder) from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not. More generally, it means cutting the “fat cats” down to size, motivated by envy or what Ayn Rand called “hatred of the good for being the good.” (Capitalists are the “fat cats,” whereas wealthy leftist “fat cats,” funders of the activists, are never called out as such or criticized.)

What about the end that justifies the means, the socialism that the revolution aims to establish? A line sometimes heard spoken to socialists and communists is “I admire your end but not your means.” Such a statement, however, is a disastrously unfortunate concession to leftists because it is a compromise of Enlightenment principles. The end of socialism is as despicable, if not more so, than the means claimed necessary to achieve it.

Government ownership of the means of production, that giant post office Lenin wants us all to work for, cannot be achieved without massively initiated coercion that must be run by a just-as-massively coercive and elitist bureaucracy or deep state. Unless propped up with remnants of capitalism (as Lenin did with his New Economic Policy) or from the generosity and imports of capitalist outsiders, socialism must inevitably collapse in ruin (as did the USSR).

Socialism—and all its variants—is an act of violence and destruction, as we have witnessed throughout the twentieth century and today in certain countries, such as Venezuela.

Why don’t leftists see the violence and destruction? Horowitz says they first set up their ideal as a heaven on earth, a Garden of Eden in which the lion lies beside the lamb and horns of plenty are given to everyone. Then, they ignore all consequences of socialism when put into practice and blame the violence and destruction on depraved dictators who have usurped the leftists’ rightful power and destroyed their heavens on earth.

The fantasy projection of a socialist state, allegedly creating a “New Man” or “New Woman,” was built on the principle of self-sacrifice that today and in the recent past has implemented the destruction of individual and private property rights on a scale never before seen. It has created nothing but sacrificial lambs, millions of which have been slaughtered on the altar of the elitist beasts—“lion” is too benign a word—of the “collective good” and “revolution.” 

Facts are facts, and delusions of grandeur, like heavens on earth and Gardens of Eden, are just that, delusions.

More likely, they are rationalizations for highly destructive and viciously heinous ends, as well as viciously heinous means.

No amount of “virtue signaling” can justify dishonest, coercive methods of establishing allegedly noble—though actually despicable—ends.

Robespierre, interestingly, was apparently the first virtue signaler. “Terror,” he said, “is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible . . . an emanation of virtue.”

Terror as the implementation of virtue? Was Robespierre well intended and noble, and did his end justify his means?


* Alinsky’s world is “corrupt and bloody” (p. 24), divided into the “Haves” and “Have-Nots.” Machiavelli’s The Prince was a guide to the Haves on how to keep power, whereas Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals is a guide to the Have-Nots on how to take power away from the Haves (p. 3). His world is a Hobbesian war where “the end justifies almost any means,” (p. 29) because morality is time and situation bound, that is, subjective. Nevertheless, to “clothe” methods and arguments “with moral garments” is one of his rules (p. 36).


Postscript. David Horowitz is not one to kowtow to the communist/fascist left. He speaks with courage and vigor. For example, “when rioters and ‘protesters’ defend criminals and attack the police it is not a protest. It is an attack.” In other words, the acts are criminal and the criminals should be arrested. On the recent “show trial” of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, nominee for the Supreme Court, Horowitz calls it “the equivalent of a modern-day lynching.” And on the howling (and screeching) of today’s toxically hostile feminists, he says, we need to “grant women true equality by confronting their lies and their reckless accusations with the same candor and frankness we would if they were coming out of the mouths of men.” Because: “despite half a century of women’s ‘liberation’ and ‘hear me roar’ proclamations the feminist attitude towards women is still Victorian. Women are fragile violets who wilt before the raised voices and impassioned claims of male innocence.” (Italics added.)


Friday, September 07, 2018

Is Homosexuality Psychologically Healthy? Or Are We Talking About the Propagandistic Politicization of Sex?

Science and politics are the two subjects of this post. Let us take the science first.

Character and personality are volitionally created—not “socially constructed”—psychological products that generate and guide our actions. Same-sex behavior between two consenting adults, as a non-coercive relationship, is neither immoral nor a sin, nor should a contract between the two, or any other business or personal relationships involving same-sex attractions or behavior between consenting adults, be illegal. Individual rights apply to all human beings, not special “classes” or “groups.”

Psychology, however, is not the same as morality or politics.

Psychology studies the conscious conclusions we draw, and subconscious integrations we make, to direct our lives. If we hold objectively rational (that is, healthy) convictions, assuming a more or less friendly environment, we will likely live a happy life. To the extent that our convictions are irrational (unhealthy, not consonant with reality), to that extent we will be unhappy.

The job of psychologists and psychiatrists is to help us correct mistaken conclusions and incorrect subconscious integrations to enable us to live that happier life.

The leading theory on the origins of homosexuality derives from Freud, who did not write extensively on the subject, but whose followers over the past one hundred years have extended the theory considerably and even cleansed it of much Freudian jargon.

Joseph Nicolosi calls it the trauma theory of attachment loss (1, 2, 3). Typical pattern for a pre-homosexual boy includes an absent father, a mean father or other adult male (who may or may not be physically or sexually abusive), or an aloof father. The challenge of a young boy is to separate from his mother and be welcomed, as Edith Packer puts it, into his father’s club, to be dubbed a “male.” If this does not happen, problems arise and intensify (Kindle loc. 2497-2503).

Such a boy is often a sensitive, non-athletic child. As a result, he may be ridiculed by other boys, leaving him with no or few male friends. He may then become overinvolved with his mother (or sometimes girls of his own age, in a nonsexual way). He concludes, or more likely draws a subconscious emotional generalization, that he is not masculine and cannot become a man.

The boy is subsequently drawn erotically to other boys as an attempt to compensate for or repair his masculine deficit and attachment loss. He is often drawn to older boys or young men who are only too eager to welcome him to their club. But as one adult gay man said, it was not the sex so much that he wanted as to be held. And another said he just wanted a best friend (Nicolosi, pp. 111, 136). Loneliness, shame, and sadness are common emotions, profound grief and sadness, according to Nicolosi.

Janelle Hallman writes similarly about homosexual women and their relationships with their mothers (1, 2, 3, 4). Young girls tend to conclude that it is either unsafe, due to abuse, or undesirable, due to an absent, depressed, or alcoholic mother, to be a woman. Like boys, they tend to have no or few same-sex friends. Like boys, they often say lesbianism is not about the sex; they say, “I just want to be held, and I don’t want to be alone.”

Girls growing up, though, have a somewhat easier task than boys in the sense that they do not have to separate from their mothers. If there is attachment, Hallman interestingly suggests, this may explain the emotional differences between boys and girls. Psychologically healthy girls retain and readily show more than boys the emotional warmth and relationship-building skills of their mothers.

If there is no attachment, or a damaged attachment, feelings of abandonment and other problems result. The little girl may feel that there is something wrong with her, she may become afraid of or even hate men, and she can develop a subconscious hatred of herself. She is then drawn erotically to other women as compensation or reparation for the emptiness and loneliness in her psyche. The relationships begin quickly and just as quickly become highly emotionally dependent and possessive.

In a small percentage of cases, Nicolosi points out, an exception to the trauma theory is an infatuation of some adolescents that does not last long and is usually not further pursued after the initial infatuation’s ending.

What does the research say? Is homosexuality genetic, that is, inborn? No, this has been a settled issue for geneticists, which includes work by gay researchers, since at least the early 1990s (Nicolosi, pp. 42-43).

New Zealanders N. E. and B. K. Whitehead (1, 2, 3) have reviewed over 10,000 studies and publications to arrive at an emphatic no to the question of whether homosexuality is inborn.

In addition, many studies have been conducted comparing mental issues of homosexual men and women to heterosexuals in both the so-called tolerant western countries (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand) and the so-called less tolerant ones (UK, US, Australia).

Name the mental issue and gays unfortunately suffer it at least three to twenty times more than heterosexuals (1, 2, 3): three times the depression, six-and-a-half times the agoraphobia, twenty times the borderline personality disorder, five times the bipolar disorder, seven times the obsessive-compulsiveness . . . and so on. Suicidality and substance abuse are widespread and occur more frequently than for heterosexuals.

All numbers are the same in both tolerant and less tolerant countries, which effectively eliminate discrimination or social stigma as a causal influence.

Homosexuals have five times the number of partners as heterosexuals. Promiscuity, even after marriage, is rampant for both sexes—so common that activists have redefined it as normal and healthy (“extradyadic sex” and “open relationships,” they call it). Ability to stay together and maintain an intimate relationship is rare; at most the median for gays, depending on study, is three to five years, whereas in the “divorce-prone USA” (the Whiteheads’ words), median for married heterosexuals is twenty-five years.

Add to this: there are more ex-gays alive in the world today than gays. As gays get older, the tendency (frequently without therapeutic intervention) is to go straight and sometimes to marry and establish a traditional nuclear family, where, the research overwhelmingly shows, children do far better than in either single-parent or gay-parent homes (Nicolosi, chap. 11; Whiteheads, chap. 12; Regnerus; Allen).

Not a small percentage of gays of both sexes experience opposite sex attraction, which is now called “sexual fluidity.” All this term means is that attraction is an emotion and emotions have causes, which means emotions can change, either by oneself through introspection or with the help of a therapist or confidential friend.

Is something missing in gay relationships?

This brings us to the politics of sex, beginning with another pathway to homosexuality. The gay activists—“Stalinist gay activists” and “Stalinist feminists,” as lesbian Camille Paglia (pp. 67-92, excerpts here) calls them—appeal to young kids and adolescents to sell them on homosexuality as a healthy alternative lifestyle.

Leftist activists, after all, are abject subjectivists who see no differences between men and women or masculinity and femininity or, for that matter, men and boys—as in pedophilia, now euphemized as “intergenerational intimacy,” with the logical consequence of subjectivism that there should also be no difference between humans and animals (or between humans and trees) . . . in sex. See also Heyer.*

What the activists are doing is appealing to adolescents (and also to politically inclined adults) to adopt homosexuality as a defense value, to feel “cool” or “special” or to be a “celebrity” in the eyes of their peers for doing something different. A defense value is a pseudo-self-esteem, an attempt to fend off anxiety that makes us feel special in the eyes of significant others and superior to outsiders. Bragging is a sign that a defense value is operating, and the value can be rational or irrational. A criminal, for example, may brag, “I shoplift and never get caught.” See Nathaniel Branden, pp. 143-53, and Packer, loc. 2672-2702.**

Adolescents who fall for the activist line and say they are gay usually have not had any or substantial physical experiences. Perhaps this is why 98% of sixteen-year-olds who say they are gay a year later say they are not.

More on the politics of sex. From about 1970-73, gay activists harassed, intimidated, disrupted scientific conferences, and, in some cases, threatened members of the American Psychiatric Association to “persuade” them that homosexuality is not psychologically problematic. Because of the harassment and intimidation, only 54% of the membership in 1973 voted on the issue, 33% in favor of a resolution to normalize homosexuality. The activists won. (See also Whiteheads, chap. 12)

During the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, the press, those exemplars of courage and independence, flip-flopped (Paglia’s words) to preach the party line of the activists. The press still preaches the party line, including the falsehood that “the gay gene has been found.” This demonstrates why we cannot get our science from the press (or from television or Hollywood).

Gay activists now control the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Centers for Disease Control. These organizations determine what gets funded for research and what gets published.

Conclusions reached from research funded by non-activist sources, usually religious organizations and conducted by religious researchers, are not friendly to the gay activists. Hurling vile invective at the researchers is the modus operandi of Stalinist activists, including attempts to have researchers fired from their academic positions.

Vile invective is also what Dr. Nicolosi was victim of over the course of his career. Even his Wikipedia entry, as well as discussion of “reparative therapy” under the entry “conversion therapy,” has been repeatedly falsified. For a year, Nicolosi reported, he would change the falsehoods to the truth only to see almost immediately his corrections changed back to falsehoods by the activists. The falsehoods are still there today.***

Frail egos, adapting Paglia’s words, cannot tolerate differences or, especially, “that some people may not wish to be gay.” Criticism of activists, therefore, and disagreement with them are not allowed.

The activists’ ultimate goal is to ban all ideas and discussion that homosexuality may not be totally healthy. (Never mind the issues of HIV and AIDS.) The activists especially want to use government guns to ban psychotherapy for anyone seeking to examine unwanted same-sex attractions or behavior, and they have had some successes on this front (1, 2, 3, though the recent California bill has been withdrawn).

A final note. There are many reasons to feel proud of ourselves, for example, pride in our personal and professional accomplishments and pride in our rights and freedoms as individual human beings, but I don’t feel particularly proud (or not proud) of being a man or a white person or a heterosexual, or of having self-esteem. I don’t think about these issues in that way. To brag about them would be a pseudo self-esteem or defense value.

I believe the activists are doing a considerable disservice to gays for telling them they should feel proud of their sexual orientation, especially considering how many suffer serious psychological problems. Telling gays (or anyone) they should feel proud of their psychological problems does not enable them to feel proud. It likely intensifies the problems.

Over the several decades of my life I have enjoyed gay friends and gay co-workers. At one point, for about a year, two of my co-workers became after-work drinking buddies, that is, until I had to plead poverty and the need to start banking my hard-earned Scotch money. Sadly, these two friends have since died of AIDS.

I respect gays and their rights as consenting adults, and I feel sympathy for them. Are they happy?

As for the Stalinist activists . . . I feel an unrestrained anger. They deserve moral condemnation.


* The propaganda of the activists even promotes homosexual sex as superior to heterosexual intercourse, though a significant problem has to be that gays can only mimic intercourse, which many do, often in unhealthy ways. Lack of complementary gender differences, the “mystery of the opposite sex,” also has to be a problem. Romantic love? In our present culture, romantic love is rarely discussed—favorably or at all—for heterosexual relationships, let alone for homosexuals. As for today’s “women’s advocates,” I prefer to call them “toxically hostile feminists,” because they poison young girls’ minds by teaching them to distrust and hate men. For many of these in-your-face Stalinists, their motto is “who needs men?” They do not teach Betty-Friedan-style or Ayn-Rand-style that little girls psychologically need to think about and pursue productive careers. Paglia, not one to mince her words, makes this comment about the “lesbian dildo craze” of Stalinist feminists: “If penetration excites . . . why not go on to real penises?”

** And today, the activists appeal to young, pre-teen children, committing a vicious child abuse by encouraging hormone treatments of minors based entirely on a feeling of the child. (Have epistemology and psychology, not to mention morality, sunk this low?) Transgenderism, says psychiatrist Joseph Berger, is “emotional unhappiness.” Johns Hopkins University, a pioneer in transgender surgery, abandoned it in 1979, because sex was all the men seeking the surgery talked about (not family or children) and they were depressed before and still depressed after (1; 2, pp. 220-28). On detransition from transgenderism, see Heyer. Economist Walter Williams has facetiously declared himself a springbok trapped in a human body. Does that make him one? Reality is dispensable in the Stalinist activist world.

*** Nicolosi’s work is said by the activists (of course) to be “discredited” and “pseudoscientific.” The Popperian word “pseudoscientific” is used to denigrate claims of clinical psychologists who do not use the “experimental-positivistic-behavioristic” methodology (Maslow’s words) of logical positivism. The activists also falsely describe Nicolosi’s therapy as “conversion” and “reorientation,” neither term of which he endorsed. Nicolosi called his therapy “reparative,” to help his patients repair their gender wounds. Nicolosi, like all honest therapists, simply sought to help patients work out their problems in order to live a happier life. Unfortunately, Dr. Nicolosi passed away unexpectedly in March, 2017. (And the words “vile invective” are too kind to describe what activists have said about him since his passing.)


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Masculinity and Femininity: The Differences Are Not Arbitrary “Social Constructs”

Masculinity and femininity are emotional styles that express our sexual self-confidence as a male or female person in relation to the opposite sex.*

They are psychological achievements that derive from our different anatomies and physiologies. Deficiencies in masculinity and femininity, that is, diminished confidence in oneself as a male or female person, are signs of an arrested development.

At birth, our minds are tabula rasa, which means our minds have no cognitive content. At birth, we begin processing the world we live in, which produces an initial cognitive content. As we grow, especially when we begin to talk, cognitive processing escalates.

Our character and personality, in other words, are self-created; genes and environment can influence us, but they do not create us. How well we cognitively process the world in which we live, that is, how objective and rational are the conclusions we draw, determines how psychologically healthy we will be in adulthood.

How well we process the world depends, in large part, on how well we have been taught by our parents and teachers about psychology, especially about how to introspect our developing psychologies to catch and correct errors in the processing.

Throughout history, and especially in today’s culture, the answer to the question “How well have we been taught?” must be: “not very well, if at all.” Thus, most of us reach adulthood with mental inhibitions, that is, deficiencies in self-esteem, often expressed as anxiety and defensive habits (defense mechanisms) to cope with the anxiety, for example, depression, obsessions, compulsions, projection, rationalization, hostility, and so on.

In today’s culture, consequently, most of us reach adulthood with arrested development in many areas of our psychologies, in varying degrees, not necessarily extreme. An arrested development, nonetheless, combined with mistaken ideas in the culture, may lead us to conclude that we are controlled by genes and environment.

To be sure, environment influences us in both helpful and hurtful ways, but we remain the ones who must process the events of the environment, draw conclusions about ourselves in relation to them, then act to deal with the situations.

This applies to the development of our masculinity and femininity. Thus, depending on our upbringing and schooling, we may conclude that masculinity means to be a “macho man,” with big biceps, and that femininity means to be a “clinging vine” or a fashion model.

Behavioral manifestations can and do express our masculinity and femininity, but they do not define them.

The essence of masculinity and femininity, according to psychologist Nathaniel Branden, derives from our respective sexual roles in a heterosexual relationship, and that, in turn, derives from our respective anatomies and physiologies. Men, says Branden, in addition to the obvious sexual differences, are bigger and stronger—they have stronger upper-body muscle, while women have broader hips. Geneticists, indeed, say there are over 6500 genetic expressions that differentiate men from women, and the differences begin in the womb. “Society” has nothing to say about these differences.

In the romantic-sexual relationship (and only in the romantic-sexual relationship), Branden goes on to say that the man is more active and dominant. “He has the greater measure of control over his own pleasure and that of his partner; it is he who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated (with everything this entails, physically and psychologically” (The Psychology of Self-Esteem, p. 206).

Healthy—fearless and guiltless—self-assertiveness, strength, and self-confidence, says Branden, are desirable in both men and women. Pride in oneself and one’s achievements and admiration of one’s partner are prerequisite to a healthy romantic-sexual relationship.

The difference is that the man feels his masculinity as romantic initiator and, more generally, as protector of the woman, while the woman feels her femininity as challenger and responder.**

To put this difference in the vernacular, the man’s job is to make the woman feel “real good.” In this process, the man also feels, or should also feel, if psychologically healthy, “real good” in performing the role. The woman’s job is to feel sufficiently free and confident to accept and experience the man’s offer of total trust and security, not to mention the pleasure he is giving her (and the reciprocal pleasure she gives him).

The romantic-sexual act of intercourse between a man and a woman truly in love becomes a feeling of total integration, an experience of being one, a union. Branden describes this as “the most intense union” and highest form of pleasure available to human beings (p. 136).

Behavioral manifestations of a confident masculinity and femininity become highly desirable, for example, to “look nice” for the opposite sex, and for men to hold the door open for a woman and for the woman to look up to and admire the man by saying “thank you.”***

Size of biceps, length of hair, and whether or not a man or a woman wears a skirt or pants do not define masculinity and femininity. These are just socially arbitrary conventions.

It is not unfeminine for a woman to run a railroad (as does Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged), nor is it unmasculine for a man to wear tight pants and excel as a world-class ballet dancer (as did Mikhail Baryshnikov).

Masculinity and femininity are objective, reality-based psychological achievements. An arrested development means self-doubt about our sex in relation to the opposite. A young man scared to death to talk to girls, let alone ask one for a date, is one example. A young woman who is afraid to respond to a young man’s rational advances, a man the young woman might actually admire, is another.

The objective, reality-based meaning of masculinity and femininity raises a question that will have to be deferred to another post. Is same-sex attraction and behavior psychologically healthy? I immediately hasten to add that such attraction or behavior is not in any way immoral or a sin.

But is it healthy?


* “Sexual self-confidence” is the term used by psychologist Edith Packer (Lectures on Psychology, chap. 6, section 2). Other psychologists have used the words “gender esteem,” an interesting narrowing of the broader “self-esteem.”

** Branden uses the terms “romantic dominance” and “romantic surrender,” but by using the above concepts I am trying to avoid the older, historical connotations of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress. “Initiator,” “challenger,” and “responder” are words used by Branden.

*** Tradition says a man walking on the outside of the woman, nearer to the street, originated in the days of chamber pots being emptied into the roadway. The man, as a gentleman, eagerly sought to protect his lady. Today, it is simply a pleasant gesture for the man to perform—and for the lady to accept.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Is the Next Step for the Left to Liquidate Its Enemies?

Ludwig von Mises, of course, said it best when he described the ultimate end of all variants of socialism, whether communism, fascism, or interventionism:
Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator. What he plans is to deprive all other men of all their rights, and to establish his own and his friends’ unrestricted omnipotence. He refuses to convince his fellow-citizens. He prefers to “liquidate” them. He scorns the “bourgeois” society that worships law and legal procedure. He himself worships violence and bloodshed. (Planned Chaos, p. 52)
Are we there yet? I hope not.

In the United States in the 1960s, we had violence and bloodshed (bombings, kidnappings, murders, the burning of buildings, and other wanton destruction of property), with considerable rhetoric from the New Left about revolution, though what they really wanted was a putsch.

But that 1960s violence and bloodshed receded after naïve students who constituted the New Left’s rank-and-file followers realized they could get shot (at Kent State).* The leaders of the New Left then either crawled back into their holes, or became politicians and tenured professors.

Violence today still occurs: shutting down speakers and plays, wanton destruction of property, and the fueling of spectacular Nazi-style fires with everything except books.

And there have been assaults and batteries and an abundance of intimidation and threats. Hostility and aggression are used against whomever one disagrees with and both are openly encouraged against prominent members of the Left’s opposition.**

Today, however, the Left’s tactics, as opposed to those used in the 1960s, are different, the preferred one being deception and trickery, also known as fraud. The goal of the Left (it’s no longer “New”) is to shut down disagreement through censorship and by securing the removal of influential people in prominent positions of universities, business, entertainment, and the media.

Facts don’t matter, so in our Postmodern Age of updated Marxist polylogism, Leftists use the word “narrative” to come up with whatever they want. The word “narrative” means “story” or “fiction,” so let’s substitute fiction to state what is promoted today as sophisticated thought.

“You have your fiction, I have my fiction, everyone has his or her own fiction. Reason, logic, objective truth, and objective reality are out. We can say whatever. And whoever shouts the loudest and longest wins.”

The law? Please. It’s malleable according to the judge’s ideology, and many laws, especially in the Federal system, are so vague and overly broad that prosecutors can and do find laws to jail anyone.

Sound familiar from history? Oops! I shouldn’t bring up history. Militantly evasive, as well as actual, ignorance of history, is flaunted everywhere. I am referring to Stalin’s secret police chief, Levrenti Beria, who said, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”

Are we there yet?

And then there’s the sheer quantity of laws on the books that I have to say, as I have said before, we are approaching “dictatorship by excessive law.”

Mises would be embarrassed if he knew what passes today for the rule of law and legal procedure—though perhaps not, as he knew well what went on in Russia, Italy, and Germany.

Mises knew, because one magnum opus that he wrote was Socialism, in 1922. The essence of socialism, he says, is destructionism. “It does not build; it destroys. . . It produces nothing; it only consumes . . .” (p. 458).

George Reisman describes socialism as “simply an act of destruction” (emphasis in original), because it destroys property rights, the profit motive, and the price system. It is not another economic theory; it is “a negation of the system based on private ownership” (emphasis in original, The Government Against the Economy, p. 151).

Socialism destroys whatever prosperity has been created by capitalism, resulting in chaos the likes of which we see in modern-day Venezuela—where citizens must stand in line just to get a roll of toilet paper.

Along the way to today’s Leftist paradise, a few eggs, as in the twentieth-century utopias of Russia, Italy, Germany, China, Cuba, and Cambodia, may have to be cracked and destroyed—or should I say, “liquidated”?

Are we there yet?


* If memory serves, this observation about the Kent State shootings was attributed to Ayn Rand. Protesting students in the ‘60s, many of whom I came in contact with, displayed this brilliant stroke of independence: “Hey, grab a beer. Let’s join the demonstration!” Sidney Hook (Out of Step, chap. 33) describes the spinelessness of New York University during its building occupations and malicious destruction of property in 1969 and ‘70. When the administration finally found spine enough to call the police, they informed the students who immediately vacated the buildings. (On recent revelations of FBI-withheld information about Kent State, see this.)

** Fortunately, though much belatedly, the House Minority Leader finally denounced the violence of Mussolini-clad blackshirts, absurdly known as the “anti-fascist” organization, Antifa. And the Senate Minority Leader recently, also finally, spoke out about “un-American” calls for in-your-face hostile and aggressive harassment of political opponents. Will the press ever speak out against violence and bloodshed??


Friday, June 08, 2018

In Defense of the Religious, Or: Why the Left Should Stop Rubbing the Devouts’ Noses In It

As a child I witnessed our family cat having his nose forcibly introduced to something in the house that he shouldn’t have deposited. Then, he was summarily tossed outside.

It was not a pretty picture.

The communist/fascist Left today rejoices at doing something similar to anyone who is religious, especially those who are politically conservative Christians and Jews. The Left revels in hurling ad baculum shouts of rage, hostility, and aggression, which Laird Wilcox has so aptly identified as “ritual defamation.”

And, to continue the analogy of “tossing outside,” leftists try to get anyone who challenges them, or disagrees with their mantra, silenced or fired—for example, YouTube’s restricting of Prager University’s five-minute videos for violating “community guidelines” and the sacking of political commentators Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, plus several others.*

Full disclosure before continuing: I am an atheist and have been since I was sixteen. Around that time, in 1963, I watched a television show called “The Defenders,” starring E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed, father-son attorneys who represented an atheist high school teacher. I did not know the meaning of the word “atheism,” so I had to look it up. Hmm, I said to myself, that sounds interesting! Soon after, I read Ayn Rand, majored in philosophy in undergraduate school, and never looked back.

Be that as it may, dear leftists, I did attend a Protestant church and Sunday school for those first sixteen years—and our culture is decidedly Judeo-Christian and has been for at least five thousand years, give or take several centuries or millennia. Our cultural history is part of our cultural identity. It cannot be denied out of existence.

I do disagree with a number of religious issues, including the not insignificant one about the existence of a god. I also disagree with the concept of sin, the emphasis on self-sacrifice, and abortion. (See the second footnote in my earlier post about the insincerity of both pro- and anti-abortionists and what both should be fighting for.)

On the positive side, I relish watching Prager University’s five-minute videos, which are highly polished and highly essentialized, often with strong messages defending free speech and free markets. I don’t agree with all of them—this usually includes those of founder Dennis Prager, himself a Jewish conservative and biblical scholar. His videos usually concentrate on religion and the assumption that morality can only come from God. Socrates, Ayn Rand, and many other philosophers throughout history disagree.

Nonetheless, Prager’s little book (110 pages, with study questions) on The Ten Commandments is illuminating. The general (and, to me, surprising) thrust of Prager’s commentary is that the commandments are what have driven the development of civilization and are therefore necessary for its continuation.**

The word “commandment” in Hebrew, Prager points out, is correctly translated as “statement,” thus the Ten Commandments should be referred to as the Ten Statements. If true, this significantly demotes the deontological, duty-based interpretations of the Judeo-Christian ethics.

Other insights: the sixth commandment, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13), as worded in my 1953 Revised Standard Version of the King James translation, should be “Do not murder.” That’s because the word “kill” in 1610 also meant “murder.” If the commandment literally meant “kill,” Prager emphasizes, we would all have to be vegetarians.

The tenth commandment, “do not covet,” says Prager, is the only one that “legislates thought,” as opposed to behavior. And this is significant, he continues, because it underlies and motivates the previous four—murder, adultery, stealing, and perjury. The thief’s coveting of my wallet or computer eventually causes him to help himself to both.

Equally illuminating is the book Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The two Catholic writers have convinced me that Jesus, a middle easterner, did not look like those white Anglo-Saxon Protestant movie actors of the 1950s!

The book is about the historical Jesus with fascinating detail, but not overly detailed like many scholarly histories. Indeed, I would describe all of the books in the authors’ Killing Series as masterpieces of essentialization. They are page-turners.

The most significant new detail, to me, is the shape of the Roman cross. It was a capital “T,” with no ascender extending above the horizontal crossbeam. The vertical beam was left permanently in the ground, so the crossbeam and prisoner had to be lifted up to be put into position.

What Jesus and other prisoners carried to the killing ground was the horizontal beam. And that would be after a vicious whipping by a couple of Roman soldiers, who were watched carefully by their superior officer to ensure that they gave no leniency, nor did they kill the prisoners. This last would deprive the prisoners of their ultimate humiliation by crucifixion.

As a historical portrayal, the authors handle Jesus’ alleged miracles by writing “people say” or “it was said” that such and such occurred.

A considerable part of the book portrays Jesus’ integrity and independence against the Pharisees, Temple elders, and others who felt threatened by him. The Pharisees were experts on the 613 commandments or laws of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, which also include the more familiar ten). The Pharisees repeatedly tried to trap Jesus so they could have him arrested and executed.

Jesus frequently responded to the entrapment schemes with parables that puzzled his tormentors, or he answered their questions with his own question. The latter part of the book becomes something of a thriller with the various parties to his demise struggling to come up with a justification for his execution.

Pontius Pilate, for example, could not go against Jewish law to order a crucifixion, unless Jesus posed a clear threat to Rome. The threat to Rome Jesus finally admitted to was that he was king of the Jews, therefore a sovereign. To Pilate, though, Jesus was essentially still a preacher, so Pilate’s solution was to offer a choice to the Temple parishioners, who in fact were shills of the elders and Pharisees. They, of course, chose Barabbas; Jesus was sent to his death.

So . . . communist/fascist, rabid leftists, you hate religious people so much that you cannot find anything of value in their cultural heritage, including the above, which, of course, is also your heritage? You hate them so much that you must treat them like dehumanized scum??

Get a life, leftists. Or, rather, get some ideas, based on reason, logic, and objective reality that can be discussed in rational discourse.

Your envy, cynicism, and malevolence are defeating you. What’s that Christian virtue? Ah, pity!

I’m starting to pity you.

I think I’ll go have a discussion about the Ten Commandments and Jesus with a devout Christian or Jew.


* Unfortunately, because of today’s epistemological chaos, Prager University is mistakenly calling their treatment by Google, owner of YouTube, “censorship,” which it is not. Censorship is an act only performed by the government. . . unless Google has been blessed with crony governmental handouts and other favoritisms, as in the “renewable” energy and electric car industries. If so, censorship would be the appropriate term. Otherwise, I have to acknowledge that Google seems to be exercising its property rights.

** “The Ten Commandments,” says Prager, “are the greatest list of instructions ever devised for creating a good society” (p. 79). And a good society that the commandments establish, Prager says earlier, is a free society (p. 6).


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hatred, the Leftist Emotion?

You’re a white racist.

This is one of the lovely epithets being slung around today. If I were on the receiving end of such hostility, I would have to respond by saying that I do not believe in turning the other cheek. Therefore . . .

You’re a totalitarian, postmodern progressive irrationalist, which means you are a communist/socialist/fascist/Nazi polylogist leftist and wannabe dictator whose only method of accomplishing anything is through physical force masked by governmentally initiated coercion and legal plunder called laws and regulations.
Other comments could be added, such as, “you’re a racist against whites, a misandrist, and a heterophobe,” but let’s just say, for short, that you are a communist/fascist leftist.* Your motivation is envy and hatred.

Envy has been covered by Helmet Schoeck and Ayn Rand, though Rand said envy is not the right word. Hatred of the good for being the good is more correct. So, let’s look at the psychology of hatred.

“Hatred of the good” is not envy because bad students who express this emotion do not want to be good students. They want the good students to fail, or at least be dragged down to their level. The same can be said for today’s entitlement poor. They do not want to work hard to become rich like successful business people. They want the rich to suffer (ignoring the history of rags-to-riches stories) and become like them.

Hatred, according to psychologist Edith Packer (Lectures on Psychology, chap. 4), is an emotion that begins with anger and resentment. If unchecked, that is, if underlying evaluations of the emotions are not examined for truth or falsity, and when false, not corrected, anger and resentment can develop into rage, hostility, and aggression.

Underlying anger, says Packer, is the universal evaluation that “an injustice has been done to me,” the word “universal” meaning all instances of anger express the same evaluation. That evaluation in any specific instance, however, may be valid or true, as when someone rudely cuts in front of us in a movie line, or invalid or false when it turns out that the cutter was joining his wife who was holding his place, or the cutting was inadvertent.

Anger expresses an injustice resulting from a specific action. Resentment expresses stored-up anger, stemming from a belief (valid or invalid) of long-term unjust treatment that has been neither confronted nor resolved. This can then lead to hatred.

Hatred says the target of the emotion is totally contemptible, that the person’s character, not just his or her specific action, is despised. To quote Packer, “an individual who feels hatred usually also feels helpless to correct the injustices committed by the person he hates. While hatred can be justified in some rare cases, almost always it is neurotic or pathological”** (Kindle loc. 1527-31).

Rage, an out-of-control fury deriving from the conviction that somehow I am the cause of this injustice, often follows from hatred and is pathological. As is hostility, although hostility is a defense mechanism that only looks like anger. Deriving from self-doubt that is projected outward at an alleged injustice, the aim of hostility is to make the target suffer. Aggression, finally, is the behavioral manifestation of hostility, verbal or physical actions to deliver the intended injuries.

Hatred of the good that we see today is rage, hostility, and aggression, by way of shouting down speakers or banging on windows to disturb them, blocking street intersections or entrances to venues, and, in the worst cases, hurling rocks and other missiles at the targets and destroying their property.

Such hostile behaviors are criminal, driven by frail egos filled with self-doubt, and are not new.

Recall the decidedly un-civil-disobedient student demonstrations of the 1960s, the seizures of property, kidnappings of college deans . . . and bombings and killings. Or recall 1920s Weimar Germany and its street clashes between red-coated communists and brown-shirted Nazis, not to mention Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.

The pathological and contemptibly immoral goal in both time periods was to tear down and destroy the accomplishments of capitalism and, ultimately, replace it with some form of totalitarianism. The same is occurring today.

Marx and Engels advocated violent revolution. Lenin, Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler were just carrying out the communist/fascist founder’s wishes.

Marx’s method of argument was to declare to his opponents, “you’re just a bourgeoisie.” We can’t reason with you, he would say, because you don’t understand proletarian logic. That’s the meaning of “polylogism.”

Today’s Marxists, that is, the postmodern progressive Leninist, Mussolinian, Stalinist, Hitlerian leftists, do not even pretend to offer arguments. They smear opponents—people of prominent positions in universities, business, entertainment, and, especially, the media—by calling them names: “You’re a white racist, misogynist, homophobe.”

And they intimidate and threaten them, by pouring money into campaigns of vilification. If the targets do not toe the politically correct party line, or apologize grovelingly when they cross it, the leftists step up their campaigns to have them removed and their careers destroyed.

If this is not hatred—hatred of the good, the competent, the able—I don’t know what is.

(By the way, communist/fascist leftists, all crimes are hate crimes. That pickpocket who relieves you of your wallet is not doing it out of warm, fuzzy love.)

Postmodernism, and its leftist activists, reject the Enlightenment’s values of objective reality, reason, logic, individual rights, and capitalism. Stephen Hicks, in his book Explaining Postmodernism (1, 2), eloquently dubs postmodernists the Iagos to the Enlightenment’s Othellos. Their goal is to inject doubt into modernity’s values and, as it did with Othello, “let that doubt work like a slow poison” (Hicks, p. 200).

Or, as Hicks elsewhere describes the activists on college campuses (whom he denies the epithets “snowflakes” and “delicate flowers” because their tears, he says, are a tactic): the “grievances are not meant to be resolved. They are meant to fester and be used in the service of power-politics strategy. . . . The protesters’ point is to make unreasonable demands, and their goal is to see how much they can get away with.”

Calculated hate? How can it not be!

The antidote to this festering poison is a rational psychology that the Iagos do not possess, but if they did, it would consist of independence and a commitment to facts and truth.

In particular, it would be a commitment to the Enlightenment’s values that there really is an objective reality “out there,” that we can identify it through reason and logic, that we each individually possess rights deriving from our nature as human beings and applying universally to every person on earth, and that laissez-faire capitalism, or the closest thing we have ever come to it, has cured, and continues to cure, dread diseases, and has abolished, and continues to abolish, poverty in cultures worldwide by providing abundant opportunities for all to rise above their original stations in life.



* I’ve been struggling for some time to come up with an appropriate sobriquet to describe the far leftists. “Communist/fascist” works because differences between the two systems are superficial and Marx, Engels, and Lenin considered communism and socialism to be synonyms. “Left” on the political spectrum means total control of life and economy—this includes fascism—so “totalitarian leftist” becomes redundant.

** A justified emotion of hatred, for example, might be that of a victim of the Holocaust whose hatred is directed at the Nazis and their modern-day sympathizers.


Monday, April 09, 2018

On the Worst—and Best—Rising to the Top

When initiated coercion is legalized, it attracts those who are willing to use it.*

Those who are more willing to use legalized, initiated coercion than those who are hesitant will advance faster in the system. Eventually, the more willing rise to the top. The more willing, then, use the initiated coercion against those they have bypassed and anyone else who gets in their way.

This in essence, though not his words, is the identification made by F. A. Hayek in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom (chapter 10, “Why the Worst Get on Top”).

The identification explains how and why an interventionist, increasingly bureaucratized government becomes a dictatorship.

The way Hayek put it is that “democratic statesmen” expect citizens to approve of their coercive policies peacefully through discussion and majority vote. As this does not work, and leads to chaos, those with “lower moral and intellectual standards” step in to take over. They appeal to the “docile and gullible,” uniting them with a “hatred of an enemy” and “envy of the better off.”

A casualty along the way is language, meaning the rise of Goebbelsian propaganda, with the word “liberty” being the first to go, or rather, turned on its head, Orwellian fashion, into its opposite.

By “democratic statesmen,” Hayek means the democratic socialists who thought they could avoid a Marxist violent revolution by voting their brand of initiated coercion into power. Instead, they paved the way for the Lenins, Stalins, Mussolinis, and Hitlers of the twentieth century.

The “docile and gullible” in today’s political climate are the patsies of the socialist/fascist left. They are those alleged victims who in reality are beneficiaries and opportunists of our entitlement culture. They are the ones who clamor for coerced handouts and privileges in the name of reparations for past discrimination and in the form of protections and other initiated coercions against the hated enemies, their alleged current persecutors.

The “hated enemies” of today have congealed around several targets. Historically, ever since the rise of the early Progressives from their democratic socialist beginnings, and continuing in the present, the favorite Marxist whipping boy has always been, and still is, big business—“America’s Persecuted Minority,” as Ayn Rand so aptly put it.

Other hated targets include white straight males and, of course, our current president, and anyone who dares to disagree with the socialist/fascist left’s mantra.

Envy of those “better off” targets is the motivation of our contemporary “democratic statesmen” and their “docile and gullible” followers.

Envy—not a self-confident, self-responsible, and independent psychology.

The way, indeed, is being paved for a modern-day . . . well, who knows what.

In contrast to the upward mobility of the worst in government, the most competent and able, self-responsible, and independent individuals—the best—rise to the top in free-market businesses.

When ability is recognized and rewarded, as in a private, profit-making business in a totally free market, which means where there are no interfering regulations imposed as a result of initiated coercion, the most competent at identifying what will improve human life and most able to deliver created goods and services to their customers will advance.

In business, competence and ability are rewarded. In a bureaucratized government, willingness to develop new laws and regulatory rules and the desire to execute them, which means more opportunities to coerce, is the criterion of advancement.

In business, the criterion and means of success, and therefore the means to high profits to sustain and grow the business, is customer satisfaction, that is, making products better than the competition to meet the objective needs (the requirements for an improved life) and wants (optional tastes) of the customer.

The day to day work, whether by employee or entrepreneur, entails a myriad of detailed communications, both outside the company, with customers and suppliers, and within the company, to employees in the various departments necessary to run the business. All of this “myriad detail,” then, must be coordinated to produce and deliver the product in a timely, need- and want-satisfying manner.

Those who possess the greatest ability to communicate with others and to motivate them in a positive way, and who can retain the greatest detail, which includes surveying the company for means of improvement and, especially, the market for opportunities, will be the ones to advance.

Today, however, we do not have the kind of freedom I have described above. Today, we live in a “mixed economy,” which means a mixture of freedom and dictatorship.

Business people today are harassed by thousands of regulations—legalized, initiated coercion—that deflect attention from the proper operation of their companies.

As a result, the incentives become mixed. Some incentive of customer satisfaction remains, but much of the time today is spent on compliance with the regulations, many of which conflict with customer satisfaction.

Increased prices is the most obvious conflict, but reduced supply and elimination of some products from the line also follow the increased regulation.

In heavily regulated industries, the “best” who rise to the top are likely to be the ones who are good at working with regulators, complying with the rules. In such industries, the business has become so bureaucratized that it operates much like a government bureau—meaning incompetent and indifferent to customer needs and wants.

It’s not uncommon for “successful” bureaucrats in these businesses to join government agencies to become regulators themselves and administrators of legalized, initiated coercion.

This is where we are today. Only time will tell how far the socialist/fascist left pushes us.


* “Legalized, initiated coercion” is the pernicious opposite of the constitutionally valid and rights-based self-defensive use of force.


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Deference to Authority Studies

Psychological independence, or more specifically independent judgment, means that one’s self-esteem, integrity, and courage, should be sufficiently strong to resist outside pressures for conformity.

Independent judgment should be a fundamental aim of parenting and teaching, but, unfortunately, is not.

A number of well-known studies from the twentieth century, however, have examined, albeit superficially, the relationship between independence and conformity.

Solomon Asch in the 1950s explicitly approached the issue in terms of independence versus conformity, and even referred to Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People and Ibsen’s notion of a conforming “compact majority.” Ibsen’s protagonist, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, stood uncompromisingly to his judgment while one by one losing nearly all who were supposedly his friends. In fact, they were the compact majority.

Asch’s studies exposed a group of subjects to four straight lines on a card. The group’s assignment was to judge which of three lines was equal in length to the fourth; only one of the three was equal. All subjects but one were confederates of the researchers and were instructed to give identically incorrect answers. The test was to determine how independent the lone, unaware subject would be against the pressures of the group. A number of trials with variations was also conducted.

On average, two-thirds of all naïve subjects, in at least one of several trials, did not conform to the majority. Twenty-five percent did not conform at all in any trial.*

What does this prove? Not much. It does show the serious shortcomings, especially the contrived nature and shallowness, of the “experimental-positivistic-behavioristic” methodology, to borrow Abraham Maslow’s apt description of the epistemology used in psychology for the last one hundred years (Toward a Psychology of Being, pp. 7-8).

The studies only establish that some people are independent, at least in a perfunctory sense, and others are not, though, as Asch points out, there are “individual differences” in the behavior of all personalities. Follow-up interviews provided some, but not a lot of, insight into the thinking of test subjects.

Because of the absence of any further probing into the thinking, especially of the subjects’ “core” and “mid-level” evaluations, to use Edith Packer’s terms (Lectures on Psychology, chap. 1) for the fundamental thoughts or conclusions that determine our character, personality, and motivation, the concept of independence used in these studies must be described as existential, not psychological.

Existential independence is sound, not independent, judgment. It is sensible decision making that looks at externals, such as straight lines on a card. Without further in-depth inquiry, there is no way to determine whether or not independent judgment or psychological independence was exercised. (Sound or existential judgment usually refers to people who are responsible in an external or existential sort of way, that is, by paying their own bills when leaving home and not remaining dependent on their parents or anyone else to support them.)

Subsequent studies have shown results similar to those of Asch, namely that some people are independent, and others are not, and that the shallowness of the methods used provides no comprehensive understanding of the participants’ psychologies.

Stanley Milgram’s obedience-to-authority studies, under a pretext of being studies of learning, asked “teachers” to repeatedly increase the voltage of electrical shocks to a “learner” (who was a confederate of the researcher). The shocks were not real, but the teachers initiating them did not know it.

Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment divided students into “prisoners” and “guards” in a mock prison situation for several days. Realistic submissiveness and depression of the “prisoners” and aggression and sadism of the “guards” caused the intended two-week experiment to be shut down after six days.

These studies may be interesting to read, but they still only confirm the obvious, namely that some people are independent and others are not.  They provide existential—historical, not theoretical—data about how different people may behave in different situations, but that is all. Not everyone increased the voltages in Milgram’s studies, and not every prisoner in Zimbardo’s study was submissive or depressed, nor was every guard aggressive or sadistic.

Psychologies differ—and it matters. Psychologies were hardly examined. This reveals the fundamental flaw in logical positivism and its so-called scientific methodology, especially as it is applied in the human sciences.

Every subject in these studies is viewed not as an individual exhibiting universal traits or universal core and mid-level evaluations or various levels of self-esteem, but as a member—a single unit—of a statistical group that enables the researchers to calculate averages and percentages, and to compare the subjects to hundreds or thousands of others before “projection by successive approximation” can be made.

Viewing people as members of a statistical group in order to calculate averages and percentages and make projections strips them of their individuality and collectivizes them. At the same time, it abdicates the scientific search for universals, the search for answers to such questions as, “Why do some people go along with the group and others do not?”

These deference to authority studies were motivated in part by a desire to understand the Holocaust of World War II, to understand, for example, why some people would hide and protect an Anne Frank, others would tolerate the hiding but not do it themselves, and still others would inform on the protectors.**

A clue comes not from one-dimensionally descriptive surveys or ostensibly causal studies, but from the scientific observation of Victor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 36). As a concentration camp prisoner, Frankl observed with his eyes and through communication with his fellow inmates. Although he did not use the term, self-esteem was what enabled prisoners of “less hardy make-up . . . to survive camp life better than did those of a robust nature.”

A “life of inner riches and spiritual freedom” is how Frankl put it.

Self-esteem, integrity, courage, and psychological independence are what give us that inner strength—to withstand evil or to go against a compact majority.


*S. E. Asch, “Effects of Group Pressure upon the Modification and Distortion of Judgments,” in Readings in Social Psychology (New York: Henry Holt, 1952), 2-11. Asch, “Studies of Independence and Conformity,” Psychological Monographs: General and Applied 70, no. 9 (1956), 1-70.

**Milgram, of course, refers to his studies as research on “obedience to authority,” but historian Christopher Browning says obedience means compliance with commands, whereas deference is the more correct term. Deference means submission to superior claims—of the researcher, in the case of Milgram’s studies, and others. The “deference to authority” studies are not Nazi-style situations of obedience backed up with a gun pointed at you. Consequently, agreeing with Browning, I have used “deference” in the title of this post. Christopher R. Browning, “Revisiting the Holocaust Perpetrators: Why Did They Kill?” (lecture, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, October 17, 2011). Why did the perpetrators kill? First, they dehumanized the victims, then they followed the crowd. Independence, if ever present, was jettisoned, though some in at least one battalion were allowed to opt out by their commanding officer. Others who had no choice would misfire, aiming above or to the side of the victims. Even in the Holocaust, some were independent, some were not.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Repressed Memory Craze and Hysteria as Mimicry of Physical and Psychological Disorders

The word “hysteria” does not mean “wildly or melodramatically emotional,” although it can be used that way to describe certain people in certain situations.

Hysteria is a psychological problem largely dependent on the attention patients receive from their significant others, whether family, physician, or psychiatrist.

For example, Jean-Martin Charcot’s patients in the late nineteenth century mimicked the symptoms of epilepsy because they were housed on the same ward as epileptics who received considerable attention from Charcot. When the hysterics (after Charcot’s death) were moved to another ward, their epileptic symptoms disappeared.

Hysteria is a form of self-deception, as psychiatrist Paul R. McHugh puts it in his 2008 book Try to Remember: Psychiatry’s Clash over Meaning, Memory, and Mind, in which patients imitate physical or psychological disorders.

Competent physicians determine when hysteria is operating, not a more serious physical or psychological disorder, by observing how careful hysterics are, for example, not to experience urinary incontinence or to hit their heads when fainting.

McHugh discusses the psychology of the repressed memory craze of the 1980s and ‘90s, the place of hysteria in it, and his role in defending a number of the accused.

The repressed memory (also known as recovered memory) craze consisted usually of adult women who, under treatment by what McHugh calls “Manneristic Freudians,” recovered alleged repressed memories of sexual assault and rape, usually by their fathers or other members of their families.*

A significant impetus for the repressed memory craze was the 1973 book and subsequent television movie Sybil, about a woman with alleged multiple personality disorder. A consulting psychiatrist to the authors said Sybil was a hysteric who role-played multiple personalities at the suggestion of one of the authors.

The publisher, however, expressed a strong desire for a book on multiple personality disorder, insisting that hysteria would not sell. The authors went along.

The “Mannerist” therapists almost from the beginning suggested to vulnerable and suggestible, frequently depressed, people that they may have been sexually abused, but don’t remember it, by a member of their family and that they may be suffering from “multiple personality disorder.”

Hypnotic suggestion and leading questioning, supported by a huge literature asserting (not proving) that repression causes amnesia of trauma, were the treatments of choice. Patients often exaggerated and escalated their symptoms, supposedly recalling memories of sex abuse as an infant and as the result of Satanic rituals.

Therapists seldom, if ever, interviewed family members or others who might have had important, relevant information.

Many patients sued the family member they accused and, in some cases, brought criminal charges. Prison was not uncommon.

McHugh and others defended the accused, pointing out that trauma of any kind is not forgotten or repressed and that competent therapists have their hands full helping trauma patients cope with the omnipresent memories and emotions. Memory researchers pointed out how malleable our memories can be, especially if we are vulnerable and depressed.**

In one of the trials at which McHugh testified (pp. 76-85), he stated that the patient, Donna, who was suing her father, suffered from “induced hysterical disorder,” induced by the type of therapy she received leading Donna to imitate symptoms of mental illness.

The trial ended in a hung jury, with eleven jurors voting to acquit. After trial dismissal by the judge, the holdout juror subsequently called Donna for a date. The hospital sent Donna to foster care many miles away. She soon began having doubts about her “memories” and accusations. Donna eventually reconnected with her family and sued the hospital and doctor.

Memories of nearly all accusers in the repressed memory craze were false. Lawsuits against therapists and hospitals eventually led to a modest decline in repressed memory therapies and clinics. Repressed memory also became suspect in most courts of law.

McHugh relates the story of the Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials of 1692-93 as a fascinating parallel to the hysteria of the repressed memory craze (pp. 157-60).

Eleven Salem girls complained of pains and other miseries. A doctor diagnosed them as possessed by Satan’s representatives, the witches, who were causing their afflictions.

The girls then escalated their behavior to writhing on the floor and screaming, and because they were supposedly licensed to accuse who was a witch, they proceeded to do just that. Twenty people were executed and over a hundred imprisoned.

A telling incident occurred when the girls were traveling to Gloucester to testify at a witch trial. On the way, they saw an old woman near the Ipswich bridge, assumed she was a witch, and began their performances. However, the people of Ipswich yawned and paid no attention to them. The girls stopped their contortionate display, got back on their horses, and continued on to Gloucester.

Witch trials ended when the Massachusetts Bay Colony governor, whose wife was accused of being a witch, consulted ministers in New York. The ministers declared spectral evidence (dreams, visions) invalid in a court of law, which was valid at the time in Massachusetts. The governor banned spectral evidence and the episode soon ended. Apologies by some girls and other promoters occurred a few years later.

Today’s repressed memory craze, unfortunately, is not over, according to science writer Mark Pendergrast in his 2017 book Memory Warp: How the Myth of Repressed Memory Arose and Refuses to Die. Pendergrast exhaustively presents the history and theory of the craze, and, most importantly, arguments against its theory.

Pendergrast cites Arthur Janov’s primal scream therapy from the early 1970s to raise an interesting question. Janov encouraged his patients to “relive buried trauma memories” by screaming them out. “Of all of Janov’s cases related in his first book,” says Pendergrast, “only one involved incest memories.”

How is it, asks Pendergrast, that allegedly repressed sex abuse memories did not overwhelm Janov’s therapy sessions and were not discovered until, and grew exponentially in, the 1980s and ‘90s? (Pendergrast, Kindle version, location 2565-67, chapter 2)

The repressed memory craze is still alive and well today. “Many of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, the ex-Penn State football defensive coach, were based on repressed memories” (Pendergrast, location 340, Introduction).
   
The craze now operates under different names and usually beneath the headlines, although gender politics and political correctness stand out front.


* “These therapists—copying the master Freud but lacking his genius—called to mind the 16th century Mannerist sculptors and painters who, imitating the earlier masters without their inspiration or skill, produced crude and grotesque works” (McHugh, p. 34).

** The concept of repression for many years has been discredited in the minds of most psychologists, and the repressed memory craze only increased distrust of it.

Repression, however, is about emotions and its aim is to mute them by blocking awareness of their underlying evaluations. Repression begins consciously, by giving a standing order “I don’t want to feel that,” which in terms of practical effectiveness means “don’t be aware of the underlying evaluation.” (Emotions are attached to the evaluation as automatic responses; emotions per se cannot be repressed. It is the blocked evaluation that diminishes or prevents our feeling of the emotion.) Eventually, a habit becomes established preventing us from experiencing an emotion, sometimes many emotions. Repression is neither amnesia, nor forgetting, and has little if anything to do with memory. See Edith Packer, Lectures on Psychology, Kindle location 2715-38, chapter 6.   

In the absence of brain damage or other physiological causes, traumatic events are not forgotten, nor are they repressed.


Friday, January 12, 2018

More on Condescension toward the Weak, Stupid, and Ignorant

“I may be ignorant but I ain’t stupid.”

Hold that thought. I’ll get back to it.

Here are a few other thoughts.

A college professor quotes her plumber as saying, “You pay me for what I know, not what I do.” The professor’s comment? “Oh, a fellow professional! My goodness! Ha, ha, ha, ha.” Message: only when hell freezes over will we be fellow professionals.

A visitor offered Hostess bread responds: “Oh my! Hostess bread. I don’t know the last time I ever ate Hostess bread!” Message: I cannot stoop so low as to eat such a mass marketed product. And it’s white bread at that!

Recently, I recommended the Autry Museum in Los Angeles to an ex-patriate American who has been living in Europe for several decades. I thought it would give his family an appreciation of Americana. Response: “Gene Autry? Seriously?” I got the message immediately. (In my youth I thought rodeo should have become the quintessential American sport. I have since wised up. Americana is not a value to the intellectual elites.)

And then there is yours truly who has been praised—in the sense of possessing an implied moral superiority—for leaving the hinterlands to acquire advanced degrees, education being what supposedly makes me a better, as in more moral, person than those deplorables back home.*

I have never played the poverty card . . . until now.

Why? Because we—my friends, classmates, relatives—never thought of ourselves as poor, though I did share a bathroom for a few months with renters (my parents had moved to the basement), then for several years the renters lived in the two rooms of the basement. I plucked chickens, when I was probably four or five, to have food on the table. And I wore shirts and underwear made out of chicken feed sacks—multi-flowered by design and super starched in feel until washed several times.

Saturday night bath? Believe it. Once a week, until I was about sixteen, which is also when I ate my first meal in a white-tablecloth restaurant. (Two forks? Which one do I use??)

Others, of course, have been poorer, dirt poor, in some cases, with no indoor plumbing, but my point in this post is that if you have self-esteem, you will never think of yourself as poor. Nor will you want to take handouts—from anyone. At the beginning of my freshman year in college, a fraternity offered to give me a ride from the train station to campus. My father, a not-exactly-wealthy post office clerk, said, “You don’t want to be beholden to anyone. I’ll give you money for a taxi.”

I have never forgotten that advice. Later in life, I even refused to let a future in-law buy me a sport coat! “No thank you,” I said. “I prefer to pay my own way.”

Taking handouts is the essence of our entitlement culture. The poor, according to our intellectual elites, are helpless—weak, stupid, and ignorant, as I have written before (1, 2). That is, they are weak, as in lacking judgment, discernment, or firmness of conviction; stupid, as in slow- or dull-witted, which is the opposite of intelligent; and ignorant, as in not educated with an accumulation of degrees (and for some elites, this means degrees from the “right” schools).

And because the deplorables cannot help themselves, the disdain continues, this is why we need a massive Progressive bureaucracy of educated elites to take care of those poor, helpless ones.

Condescension? How can it be anything but that?

Now let’s go back to the first line of this post. It’s from the 1980 movie Coal Miner’s Daughter and is spoken by actress Sissy Spacek performing the role of country music singer Loretta Lynn. Lynn grew up in Kentucky, in far poorer conditions than I.

The line has stuck with me for all these many years, because the deplorables in the hinterlands, including Ms. Lynn, ain’t stupid.

Stupidity versus ignorance is a distinction I don’t think the condescension crowd understands, nor are condescenders aware of when they are being condescending.

In a group of people years ago (acquaintances, not friends), I was about to comment on the benefits of staying at inexpensive hotels such as Motel 6. Before I could open my mouth, however, one member of the group mentioned precisely Motel 6 and added further comment about the poor lowlifes who stay there. This was followed by a belly laugh from the group.

Having stayed at many a Motel 6, I was intimidated into silence.

Condescenders do not know how to relate to people who have backgrounds different from theirs.


* And I bought into that line somewhat when I was making my way out of the “backwaters of civilization,” but the more I hear the above comments from “city slickers,” the more I resent them. And, yes, the deplorables back home do get defensive and sometimes respond to city slickers like this: “I may not have a fancy education like you, but I attended the school of hard knocks. Let’s see you come out here and help us bail hay or shovel manure.” I cannot blame the deplorables for such comments. I am still one of them.


Postscript. After finishing this piece I discovered a Wall Street Journal article with a similar theme: “In a Divided Nation of Big Cities and Small Towns, Caity Cronkhite Thought She Knew Where She Belonged,” by Michael M. Phillips. Ms. Cronkhite made her way off the farm to attend Carnegie Mellon University where sometimes she felt like a “token white-trash friend.” Then, she moved to San Francisco only to discover a bar named Butter whose sport and reason-for-being is to laugh at rural white America . . . with drinks, for example, like Whitetrash Driver and Bitchin’ Camaro. Ha, ha, ha, ha!

My response? Get a life, San Franciscans.