Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Hatred of Truth as Freudian denial

The following essay is by psychohistorian Richard Koeingsberg.  Psychohistorians are particularly interested in the Hitler episode and rightly see Nazism as a pursuit of the old Leftist dream of an ideal, Edenic society.  Greenies are the chief modern-day exponents of that.  What Koenigsberg says below is very relevant to the furious hatred that conservatives often encounter from Leftists these days

At the 1997 Annual Holocaust Conference, I attended a lecture by Dr. John Weiss on “The Ideology of Death” (he had just published Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany).
In the course of the discussion, he mentioned “the hated Goldhagen.” Apparently, the audience understood what he meant—because a substantial conversation ensued about “the hated Goldhagen.”

I wondered what this was about. I’d attended over 100 conferences by then and many presentations—and had never heard academics speak like this. Indeed, the reigning ideology of the time was “Everyone is entitled to his (or her) own discourse.”

Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners was published in 1996. Apparently, the book generated enormous controversy among academics in the United States as well as Germany. The book became a best-seller.

What was all the fuss about?

I read the book—all 656 pages. It’s the richest, most dynamic book I’ve ever read on the Holocaust—and I’ve read quite a few.

Apparently, people took issue with Goldhagen’s claim that there was a uniquely German anti-Semitism, and that many Germans killed willfully—responding to their hatred of Jews.

I won’t address the substance of Goldhagen’s arguments here. Rather, I’d like to discuss the issue of hatred—why someone might be “hated” for putting forth certain propositions or theories.

Of course, we’ve seen this occur many times. Freud was hated and condemned for his theory of sexuality: his discovery that sexual desire plays a profound role in shaping our lives.

Similarly, people did not take kindly to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution—showing how human beings have descended from “lower” forms of animal life. Darwin’s ideas, like those of Freud, generated disagreement that took the form of anger, even rage.

It’s not difficult to understand that the theories of Freud and Darwin generated hostility because many people found their ideas disturbing, or painful. People become angry when confronted with truths they find unpleasant. Anger or hatred serves in the name of pushing away—disavowing—certain ideas. Hatred is a form of denial.

This dynamic of hatred as denial is no less operative today than it was a century ago. Each culture (including each academic culture) embraces certain beliefs as if they are absolutes—and reacts violently to ideas that contradict their world view.

Can everyone be wrong? Can entire cultures embrace ideas that have no foundation in reality? Can many ideas that society puts forth turn out to be nonsense? I have found this to be the case.

I often ask people: “How many Jews do you think were in Germany in 1933—out of a population of 65 million?” I get answers of 5 million, 10 million, even 20 or 30 million. The correct answer is: there were approximately 500,000 Jews in Germany in 1933, half of 1%.

I no longer find it fruitful to debate the point that Jews were killed for no reason at all. People have difficulty with this idea. They insist there must have been some reason that the Nazis acted as they did.

There weren’t any reasons. Hitler and the many Germans were embroiled in a shared fantasy. Entire societies can be wrong. Many cultural ideas—that people fervently believe are true—turn out to have no foundation in reality.

On the surface, people challenged Goldhagen because they believed his theories were “wrong;” not supported by the evidence; or because they felt his scholarship was suspect. But why would someone be “hated” for a theory that was incorrect?

At the Holocaust conference, Goldhagen was invited to give the keynote address, “The Holocaust in the Context of the 20th Century.” I arrived early to set up the Library of Social Science Book Exhibit. Enjoying the sights of the Millersville campus, I spotted conference director Jack Fischel walking with someone at a distance. Perhaps he was taking Goldhagen out to lunch?

Ah, I reflected, that couldn’t. The person walking with Jack was a slight, unimposing young man. Could this be “the hated Goldhagen?” Based on the way people spoke about him, I imagined Goldhagen as having a commanding, threatening presence.

Daniel Goldhagen

The young man walking with Jack Fischel indeed was Daniel Goldhagen. I met him later when he came to check out the books in the exhibit room. He was a warm, gentle person. Nothing whatsoever to “hate.”

We began rapping. I explained to him why I thought many people were disturbed by his theories. I gave him a copy of Hitler’s Ideology (no charge). We were having a great conversation.

But then Jack Fischel was at the door. The lecture was about to begin (down the hall from the exhibit room). Goldhagen couldn’t tear himself away. Fischel called his name several times; finally, he departed. Time to go back to work, do his job, earn his fee.



Lakoff rides again

Some Leftists have wheeled George Lakoff out to explain the rise of The Donald.  An excerpt from his latest essay below.  All his theories are just conventional Leftist pap, with no correspondence to reality.  But I have dealt with his theories pretty thoroughly long ago so am disinclined to re-run any of that.  There is also an amusing takedown of Lakoff here

In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Consider Trump’s statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don’t get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, Our Country above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.

We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.

Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be ‘born again” by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.

Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.

Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to “family values,” which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.

Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.



Trump and the workers

Democrats are terrified of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump- and with good reason. Some polls suggest that he may peel off 20 percent of likely Democratic voters.  Now, it appears that they're starting to take the threat seriously. As Newsmax notes:

    Democrats are getting nervous a general election battle with Donald Trump] at the top of the GOP ticket won't be so easy – worried that his populist appeal could chip away support from the party's stalwart base of working-class voters.

    "For us to take him lightly would be the worst mistake in the world," Connecticut Rep. John Larson, a former head of the House Democratic Caucus, tells The Hill.

    "I've been saying for months that we should never take Trump lightly and that I do think he has appeal, to independents and blue-collar Democrats especially… He comes along and says, 'I'm a deal maker, I'm about getting the deal done.' And they're so fed up of seeing nothing getting done and want to see him [act] on the issues that strike to the core of their feelings."

    It's a far different perspective than has was voiced just weeks ago by Democrats including Vice President Joe Biden, who said in January either Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on the November ballot would be "a gift from the Lord."

Democrats are right to be afraid. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, working class voters will have to choose between Donald Trump, a candidate committed to bringing back American jobs, and Hillary Clinton, a candidate who gives six figure speeches at Goldman Sachs. As Bernie Sanders continues to highlight Hillary's high roller hypocrisy, this choice becomes easier and easier.



Numbskull Sanders:  White people ‘don’t know what it’s like to be poor’

No poor whites in his privileged Jewish bubble, I suppose

What’s a Democratic debate without a healthy dose of pandering? During Sunday night’s debate in Michigan, moderator Don Lemon asked the candidates about their “racial blindspots,” and socialist Bernie Sanders promptly declared that white people “don’t know what it’s like to be poor”:

    “When you’re white you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor.

    “You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street, or dragged out of a car.”

On the contrary, I think a fair amount of women of all colors know exactly what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street. Furthermore, the 19 million white Americans living at or below the poverty line would definitely disagree with Sanders’ assessment.



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