Thursday, August 18, 2005


From time to time people claim that my account of Leftist psychology is similar to that put forward by the well-known "Unabomber". I generally ignore such comments as they result from a pervasive confusion in modern psychology about the nature and benefits of self-esteem -- which for a time was almost idolized. As I say elsewhere:

"The self-esteem gurus would no doubt argue that Hitler had to have LOW self-esteem to perpetrate his anti-social evils. If, however, the self-proclaimed "leader" (Fuehrer) of the "master-race" (Herrenvolk) was short of self-esteem, what meaning could the concept have? If Hitler had low self-esteem, how would we ever recognize high self-esteem? We would need some pretty circular definitions, I suspect.

This does however highlight the seeming paradox that many of those who seem to have very high self-regard also often seem to a have high need for that self-regard to be reinforced. The person with excess ego also seems to have a high ego-need. This is hardly surprising, however. There is much in the world and in life that tells each of us about our inadequacies, failures and mistakes so any person who has a high level of self-love has a lot of attacks on that self-love to fend off, counteract and defend against. The higher one's self-love, the more there is to attack and the more one will have a need to get it justified in some way. Humility would make life a lot simpler and realism a lot easier. It is no wonder that the inflated ego of the Leftist makes him/her an habitual denier of reality.

My account of Leftist psychology concedes that Leftism can arise from a number of causes but highlights the above "big ego" syndrome as dominant among Leftist intellectuals and ideologues. So my claim is that Leftists have BIG egos -- i.e. they think extraordinarily well of themselves. They think they are beneath any requirements of proof for what they say etc. But I also point out that this will ordinarily be a large disjunction from reality so the Leftist will need a lot of propping up for his ego. Nasty things like evidence contradicting his theories will lead to irrational denial and abuse of anybody mentioning the inconvenient facts.

The Unabomber, by contrast claimed that Leftists have LOW self-esteem. I quote:

"The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we call "feelings of inferiority" and "oversocialization." Feelings of inferiority are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of modern leftism; but this segment is highly influential.

By "feelings of inferiority" we mean not only inferiority feelings in the strict sense but a whole spectrum of related traits: low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc. We argue that modern leftists tend to have some such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism. When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among minority rights advocates"

So as far as I can see, the Unabomber theory is exactly the reverse of the truth!


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