#3-22

 


The New Manipulation




“As Orwell [and, probably, Ayn Rand, a refugee from the USSR] saw so clearly, totalitarianism [and any other absolutism] is inseparable from a constant pedagogy of suspicion and hatred.”—François Furet, The Passing of an Illusion, The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Century

 

“All these elements, so primitive and threadbare in their psychology, are nevertheless thoroughly effective in practice.”—ex-Nazi Hermann Rauschning, 1939, about Nazism’s anti-Semitism, the main idea of which was hatred of Jews’ supposed manipulative and parasitical willfulness.  Ironically, the same paragraph goes on to say that any other conflict between ethnicities could have just as easily be looked at in terms of “hero and weakling,” as if, of course, strength seems heroic despite how primitive and threadbare yet effective this psychology is.  Untermensch labels that don’t have to be proven, all fit this pattern.

 

“There are no warped, sore-loser fans in the NBA left.  Those whiners who cried their team got jobbed by the referees?  Today, they’re all healthy skeptics.”—beginning of Washington Post article about pathological gambling NBA referee Tim Donaghy, NBA Suffers Crisis of Confidence, By Mike Wise, July 22, 2007

“By far my best days in my career were as a consultant for Enron. The environment was an extreme rush.  Very busy, very progressive and innovative.”—Katie Walthall, former Enron contractor, in a letter she wrote to the Houston Chronicle

“We needed someone to rethink the entire financing structure at Enron, from soup to nuts.  We didn’t want someone stuck in the past, since the industry of yesterday is no longer.  Andy has the intelligence and youthful exuberance to think in new ways.  He deserves every accolade tossed his way.”—Jeff Skilling, speaking to CFO magazine in 1999, when Enron’s corporate culture was much beloved.  (Whatever he didn’t know about the illegality of Fastow’s aggressive accounting, Skilling did know that its goal was to make things look better, not function better. According to Pipe Dreams, Greed Ego and the Death of Enron, by Robert Bryce, “The magazine praised Fastow’s work in the financing structure created so that Enron could buy Azurix as well as several power plants while keeping the debts off its balance sheet.”)

“When people feel uncertain, they’d rather have somebody who’s strong and wrong than somebody who’s weak and right.”—Bill Clinton



     

“I want to reset the thinking...  It’s not the accuracy I question, it’s the characterization.”—Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, chief of the Army Medical Command, about the unsanitary conditions at Walter Reed Hospital


 

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he second is based on what seems honorable versus dishonorable.  About a century ago William James wrote that Americans tend to classify people as either redbloods or mollycoddles.  Those classified as redbloods (which tends to mean the strong) get the rights and the respect, while those classified as mollycoddles (which tends to mean the weak) get the responsibilities and the disrespect.  It seems that redbloods (the just) have sacred rights, might cause temporary problems that are merely surmountable hurdles, and unobtrusively prevent solve or deal with all of their own problems, while mollycoddles (the unjust) emotionally make their injuries into issues, are responsible for allowing or perpetuating the problems by not effectively preventing eliminating or dealing with them, and are unforgiving.  Probably the most diabolical thing about being classified as a mollycoddle is that the word “mollycoddle” is not only a noun and an adjective but also a verb, so it suggests that the intent of the “mollycoddle” is to get coddled because he’s weak.  If an honorably strong person says, “I want to reset the thinking...,” that sounds fine, but if a weak person says that he wants to reset the thinking of the country in general, that would sound extremely manipulative.  No matter how sincere is one’s assertively standing up for his own rights, this could still seem to reflect a basically Nazi concept of the hidden aggressive nature of man, the selfishness of people who want to believe that they’re entitled to better.  As can be seen in Nietzsche, the weak could easily seem to be the dangerously WILLFUL ones, since everyone’s beliefs regarding what they deserve are shaped by their own SELF-WILLS, and the weak can exercise their supposed SELF-WILLS only in ways that would seem mollycoddle, “dishonest” and “ignominious,” whereas red-blooded strength is “honest,” proud, and at least forgivable (i.e. must be forgiven).  We must appreciate all the hidden dangers of unchecked “victim-power.”  As Niebuhr wrote, power, which would include victim-power, “cannot be wielded without guilt, since it is never transcendent over interest,” over (hidden and surreptitious) SELF-WILL, though we dare not talk in such overgeneralized terms when passing judgment on overt sinful power.  We fear fearmongering, but not greed-mongering.  “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” could happen to anyone.

Innovation Corrupted, The Origins and Legacy of Enron’s Collapse, by Malcolm S. Salter, says, “Enron’s political and business strategies were forged in an environment in which exploiting regulatory ambiguities and weaknesses were commonly viewed as admirable achievements.”  Though this might seem to be a locker-room mentality limited to only certain circles, enough people cheered it.  After all, that’s excitingly red-blooded, and could come with the implication that we’re safer with this sort of freedom than we are with a morality that could be manipulated by those who want to control and otherwise exploit us.

Dubya’s saying in his farewell press conference of January 13, 2009, “...not finding weapons of mass destruction was a significant disappointment,” sounds a lot more gutsy than would a woman who says that she’s a victim of her husband claiming that he victimized her in some way, but when she found out that that wasn’t the case, she says that this was a significant disappointment.

Disgust about some power tactics seems acceptable, while disgust about others seems unacceptable, whiny and molycoddle.  For example, former Fundament Christian leader Frank Schaeffer, in his book Crazy for God, wrote, “In private, they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell [who said to Frank’s father about gay men, “If I had a dog that did what they do, I’d shoot him!”], to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious man I ever met....”  It would seem perfectly understandable if readers got angry or afraid about that arrogance and self-serving.  On the other hand, if, before the financial meltdown, someone wrote of the arrogance and self-serving of two of the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street and people reacted by getting angry or afraid, that would seem juvenile.  Of course those on Wall Street tend to be selfish and aggressive, and those who don’t accept this fact would seem revoltingly naïve, controlling, etc.  The Fundament Christian leaders are trying to get the law to impose their edicts on us through government force and authority, while the helplessness that those on Wall Street could cause could seem to be just “the way that life goes sometimes.”  If you don’t want to take religion literally, that’s fine, but if you’re in a situation for which “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference....  Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would apply, if you don’t take that spirituality literally, you’d be more maladjusted than you could afford to be in a situation where you’d have a lot to take care of.

The financial meltdown has shown that many of the Masters of the Universe have gone so far that attempts to minimize what they did as being among life’s inevitable imperfections, wouldn’t really be tenable.  Plenty of the Masters of the Universe got, or at least supported, bailouts from middle-class people who earned the money, and anger or fear about this government coercion seems absolutely acceptable.

Yet when the financial meltdown becomes old news, financial regulation becomes more adequate, and the loans in the bailout are largely paid back, anger and fear about Wall Street power tactics would once again seem un-American.  If you lose a lot of money because those who contributed to an economic meltdown got bonuses paid from tax dollars, anger at that would seem indisputably righteous, but if you lose a lot of money because of their greedy business tactics that had nothing to do with the guv’mint, then that’s life.  Wall Street would come up with new untested innovations, which they’d insist that we accept since of course the real world keeps changing so financiers must change with it and must be competitive, etc.  And if those who carry out these innovations are greedy enough that they’d likely exploit them, then everyone knows that that’s just the way the real world is.  Sure, Barney Frank said on March 19, 2009 that AIG executives who caused its ruin, and tried to get bonuses paid to them from the bailout, were people “who had to be bribed not to abandon the company,” yet everyone knows that if you expect better than that from Wall Street, you’re silly.  The new executives of the main firms that caused the problems would be different from the old executives, so to be hung up on what happened in the past would seem maladjusted.  Those who don’t just accept realities like whatever economic bubbles happen, might as well be refusing to accept genuine requirements that we be productive.  Pro-freedom excitement and self-righteousness could seem more important than any lessons that could be learned from the financial meltdown, just as, in the time that led to it, pro-freedom excitement and self-righteousness seemed more important than anything that could be learned from the Great Depression.  The deregulation that led to the meltdown, really lit the country up, excited it, and the same would have to happen again.

As one could see in the Great Crash of 2008, such a laissez faire concept of personal response-ability could seem good ’n’ gutsy, until you see the consequences of the moral bankruptcy.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, and dogmatically necessary illusions as laissez faire economics has, the very illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  Innovation seems sacred, so untested ideas seem sacred.  Economist Steven Landsburg said, “Most of economics can be summarized in four words: ‘People respond to incentives.’  The rest is commentary,” and that’s also how this sort of self-help could be summarized: You’re the only one who has a reliable incentive to solve your problems, and nothing that disagrees with this “natural” pragmatism could matter, no matter what chaos and helplessness result.  Realism simply must be oriented around the fact that you absolutely can change what’s tactically wrong with your own reactions, and absolutely can’t change what’s morally wrong with others’ actions; not being realistic would be ridiculous (said sardonically, or maybe to encourage victims to empower themselves in what laissez faire economists would call “tough love,” though the expression “tough love” originally meant the authoritarian and coercive approach that parents could use on their teenagers who have drug problems and the like).  Our economy reward$ those who think like this.  And even if this sort of thinking leads to a worldwide economic catastrophe, it could always be blamed absolutely on the supposedly mollycoddle weak.  (We all know how insidiously dangerous they are!)  All relationships and marriages considered codependent are treated just as fatalistically, whether or not the problem person is addicted.  As Greenspan said, that’s what works; even behavior problems who aren’t addicted aren’t motivated to change so expecting them to do what they don’t feel an incentive to do won’t work.  Victimhood doesn’t produce anything, so why should we give it any credit?  The ends justify the means, since the ends, functionability and good coping skills, are necessary.  Is someone sociopathic?  Avoid him since you’re incompatible!  End of story!  NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO ENDURABILITY!  Endurability has to come from somewhere.  Either we have self-responsible self-reliance, or we have nanny-ism, whining, trauma-drama, etc.  Both the economics that led to the financial crash, and self-help for anyone in trouble including addicts’ family members, wear the cloak of realism, which is both all-important and expected of all red-blooded people.  After all, we must have an un-ignorable incentive to do certain things that we may or may not be able to do.  One could say that the fix is in, not in the sense that a conspiracy put the fix in, but in the sense that our untermensch-bashing cultural norms did, so it’s predictable that if you’re the one with the problem, you’d be held response-able for “empowering yourself,” “taking care of yourself,” etc., by solving it.

Andy Serwer of Fortune magazine said about Obama’s economic team, in Ripped Off: Madoff and the Scamming of America, shown on the History Channel,  “These are people who know their way around the jungle, big time.”  So even such a proponent of the status quo like this, has to admit that the economic system that caused the meltdown, and the economic system that must be placated before it can be resolved, is a “jungle.”  Of course, he’s not likely to  be devastated by these similarities to a jungle, but it should be obvious how less fortunate people are.

 

THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE, AIG ad from 2001, so if you tried to restrain this you’d seem profoundly: weak, whiny, defeatist, controlling, unrealistic, counterproductive, opinionated, manipulative, negative, moralistic, etc.  Sure, post-scandal AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said, “I have seen the good side of capitalism.  But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism,” but one could also call the gutsiness of AIG in its PIG era, “character-building,” giving plenty of backbone and fortitude.

 

 

 

On March 16, 2008, as the deadline was approaching for Bear Stearns to make a deal with JP Morgan to rescue it, Paul Friedman, a Bear Stearns senior managing director and CEO of the fixed-income division, said that, in the worst case, “JP truly has no interest and the world’s financial system ceases to exist tomorrow.”  On that same day, Gretchen Morgenson, in the New York Times, wrote, “Why not set an example of Bear Stearns, the guys who have this record of dog-eat-dog, brass knuckles, we’re tough?”  She also call Bear, “this decade’s version of Drexel Burnham Lambert.”  You might think that for Bear to get a guv’mint bailout would be the ultimate degradation.  Yet representatives of Bear and other companies certainly would rather threaten the government that if they didn’t get saved the world’s financial system could cease to exist the next day, than go bankrupt.  Also, once they did, even though they created the problems, and bailing them out would mean that they needn’t fear serious consequences of doing it again, if those same banks later demanded the right to the old Darwinist de-regulation then everyone would have to understand, since the Darwinist approach is what’s pragmatic and pro-freedom.  We simply must understand that Darwinism works except for when it doesn’t.  Even if the next financial crisis came considerably sooner than in the hundred years that Greenspan said would pass before the next one, we’d still have to understand the Darwinism.

On October 24, 2008, R. Jeremy Grantham, chairman of the Boston-based investment firm GMO, said, “This is a panic in the way of the fine 19th-century panics, where we all run around like headless chickens.  I have been in the business for 40 years, and I have never seen anything like this.”  But if what we think are exciting, are 19th-century financial norms, then what we’ll get are 19th-century results.  Sure,  Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, could respectably say, “2009 is a year when the housing market is at the mercy of the economy and rising unemployment,” but if one said, “2009 is a year when I’m at the mercy of the economy and rising unemployment,” and you took that seriously, this would sound like victim-posturing negativism.

The Publisher’s Notes of the book King of Capital, Sandy Weill and the Making of Citigroup, by Amey Stone and Mike Brewster, includes,

Throughout his entire career Weill has created successful businesses out of smaller, seemingly unworkable pieces; filled product vacuums no one else even realized were void; and forced issues that no one else had the gumption to tackle.  His daring dealmaking tactics were never more evident than while forming Citigroup, as he lobbied Congress to deregulate the financial services industry and ousted his co-CEO in a public power struggle.

 

Yet Citigroup ended up causing so many problems and posing so many risks to the entire world.  On March 8, 2009, Richard C. Shelby, Senator from Alabama, said, “Citi’s always been a problem child.”  Sure, it looked kingly before the financial meltdown, but sometimes in the real world, you’re a winner when you win and a loser when you lose, irrespective of why.

And that’s exactly the sort of values that those dealing with a problem of the sort that contributes to our rampant depression and anxiety disorders, have to face.  Those who are strong and gutsy seem heroic and productive, while those who are weak seem contemptible, even dangerous.  As that AIG ad from 2001 said, “THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE.”  That opens the floodgates to risks and other excesses, since those who’d try to set limits would seem untermensch.  How else could so many dangerous excesses happen in financial companies throughout virtually the whole Western world, simply because all those PhD’s with big status, got too optimistic?

As Greenspan wrote in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal on May 11, 2009, “Our challenge in the months ahead will be to install a regulatory regime that will ensure responsible risk management on the part of financial institutions, while encouraging them to continue taking the risks necessary and inherent in any successful market economy.”  Of course, this would require deciding what risks really are necessary and inherent.  The approaches that Wall Street would use would keep changing, so this would require that we keep deciding which of the new risks Wall Streeters want to take are necessary and inherent.  And, of course, in the name of freedom, we may feel obligated to allow them more than what’s necessary and inherent.  And when we’d decide this, we’d be under a lot of pressure to honor Wall Street’s freedom.  Chances are that if, because of its greed, it has another major meltdown sooner than in the century, which Greenspan said is supposed to separate each meltdown from the last one, that meltdown could always be blamed at least partially on regulation hamstringing the traders as they fight based on greed.  Fights based on greed are necessarily unstable and unpredictable, so there’s no telling what effect any rules would have on the realities that would result from them.  That would mean that we’d cheer the greedy redbloods, and boo the mollycoddle regulation, and this seems sacred.

On February 27, 2009, Ken Thomas, a banking industry consultant, who lectures at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, said, “The stimulus plan can not work unless we first have in place a strong financial system, and that means people having confidence that these big banks won’t fail or be nationalized.  When they go after the big banks and attack them they’re just hurting the whole system.”  It seems that to set conditions regarding bailouts that would avoid nationalization, is attacking the banks.  Of course, those who truly do believe in red-blooded self-reliance and self-responsibility, would be among the biggest attackers.  Yet given what realism means in this situation, it seems perfectly legitimate to treat those who don’t want to give up taxpayer money to reckless companies, as if they’re indulging emotions that could destroy the entire economic system.  Sure, as a New York Times article of October 2, 2008 said, in 2004 the SEC had a meeting in which the five biggest banks pleaded to be allowed to go into debt more, and they got their wish, though several of those at the meeting said that allowing this for the biggest banks meant bigger risks for the economy.  One could no doubt find plenty of proof that the banks that now need the biggest bailouts, took risks that were obviously far too big, but caring about that could be labeled “resentment.”  (An audio recording of that meeting is here.)

 

 

A big cause of the financial meltdown that those who don’t believe in finding blame in the moral sense like to stress, is the mistaken blind faith in computer programs that are supposed to be able to predict what certain markets, or the economy in general, will do.  Yet even this shows the culpability of our red-blooded cultural norms, since those who love these norms tend to treat this faith in economics, an inexact social science, as if this was just a mistake, yet government programs to fine-tune the economy seem ridiculous as mollycoddles would seem ridiculous.  For example, Charles R. Morris’ The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown says regarding Keynesian efforts to fine-tune the economy in the 1960s and 1970s, “Academics are always suckers for arguments that extol the virtues of superior intelligence.”  Those who wrote or used the computer programs that contributed to the financial meltdown may not have been academics, but they either were intellectuals or had blind faith in the result of intellectual theorizing, and they were certainly elitist, so they should look just as ridiculous.  Yet, as the following, from the same book, shows, they seem to be simply mistaken:

For shares to truly mirror gas molecules, trading would have to be costless, instantaneous, and continuous.  In fact, it is lumpy, expensive, and intermittent. Trading is also driven by human choices that often make no sense in terms that [computerized] models understand.  Humans hate losing money more than they like making it.  Humans are subject to fads.  Even the most sophisticated traders exhibit herding behavior.  Leland’s and Rubinstein’s portfolio insurance implicitly assumed that when their automated selling routines kicked in, buy-side computers would coolly apply options math to calculate rational purchase prices.  But in real life, the buy-side was just a crowd of human traders screaming, “Holy s—!  Everybody’s selling like crazy!  Dump everything!”  In other words, as all three of this chapter’s crises [the crash of 1987, the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, and, in 1994, the crash of opaque extremely complicated impossible-to-value computer-generated collateralized mortgage obligations, a form of collateralized debt obligation, i.e. THIS ALREADY HAPPENED] suggest, in real financial markets, air molecules have a disturbing knack for clumping on one side of the room.

When redbloods whose strength has made their mistakes have big consequences for everyone, we’d better learn from these mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that we have to ridicule them, see them as reflecting the unworthy and possibly insidious SELF-WILLS of the weak, etc.  As Robert Heiner wrote near the beginning of his book Social Problems, an Introduction to Critical Constructionism, “The social sciences are often called ‘soft’ sciences or accused of being mere ‘fluff,’ referring to the fact that they are less scientific or less objective than the natural, or ‘hard,’ sciences,” but the list of social sciences that preceded this didn’t include economics.  In fact, one could call economics “fluff” just as one could call sociology “fluff,” and get outraged at the elitist intellectual stupidity of economics models that treat people’s interactions as if they were interactions between molecules of gas, just as one could get outraged at the elitist intellectual stupidity of sociological models that treat people’s interactions as if they were interactions between molecules of gas, etc.  Yet sociology seems mollycoddle, and economics seems red-blooded unless it’s being used in government programs to serve the greater good.  Chances are that after the financial meltdown is resolved, those on Wall Street will insist on using other computer programs that claim to predict what market forces will do, try new unproven financial innovations without enough regulation, etc., and if the public refuses to accept this, Wall Street would insist that the weak are emotionalistically trying to thwart the strong.

In theory this means self-responsibility, self-reliance, gutsiness, anti-controlling, good coping skills, realism, conventionality, respectability, etc., but in practice this means that nothing except, “Can I change this?” including the most basic morality and concern for the weak, can really seem to matter.  Sure, you could recognize that destructive sinfulness is destructive sinfulness, but in the end you’d have to forgive it, or you’d be maladjusted and suffer the consequences of this weakness.  (“YOU VILL ENJOY!”)  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” (Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes Buchman in its list of currently trendy “Messiahs.”) said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  If Himmler had sent you some “Dear Abby” letters that didn’t mention the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like, the advice that the letters would have given would have helped you become more resilient, courageous, self-responsible, realistic, and abiding by Gelassenheit (a fatalism that teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration if you’re helpless to get what you want or need), so you would have ended up with a stronger character.  This was the same Himmler who said, in his speech on October 4, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, “Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand.  To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions caused by human weakness—to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard,” but that personal strength concerned one of the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like.  It’s pretty obvious what the “Dear Abby” version of that would advise those in trouble, who are members of an honored group of people who are working on their own resolute and impassively accepting attitudes.  Anything less than, “Happiness is an inside job,” (in general), or, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” (in general), would have been too weak-spirited and blaming for Himmler, so he was their perfect “Dear Abby.”  The only suggestions that Himmler would have made in a Dear Abby letter  would have been, (1) courageously change what you can, and, (2) serenely accept what you can’t, since anything else would have mollycoddled WEAKNESS.

Himmler Logic, after all, would focus on whether the person with the problem seems to have a weak (as in literally WEAK) character, and would be quick to interpret inadequacies in problem-solving as weaknesses of character, so the weak seem contemptible, blameworthy, and, possibly, insidiously dangerous.  This self-responsible self-help approach is also like the “exemplary dualism” of the Militia Movement, like classifying people as redbloods or mollycoddles, or as übermenschen or untermenschen; this preaches that those who seem to have (literally) strong characters are the allies of decent people so are at least forgiven, and those who seem to have (literally) weak characters are the enemies of decent people.  This leads to some predictable distortions in our conceptions of right, wrong, shame, etc.  Take the Nazi might-makes-right ethos, remove the racism and war crimes, and you’d have what Western culture considers to be the only conception of personal responsibility that works, which is what Hitler’s Wagner’s and Nietzsche’s main inspiration, Schopenhauer, actually wrote about.

The question of whether “it” can happen here, all depends on whether or not “it” includes the aspects of Nazism and Himmler that Buchman’s formula for living didn’t include; if not, “it” happens every day.  The “it” in It Can’t Happen Here included merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude racism (“It was understood... that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy at having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe....  The allegiance of all such Negroes as had the sense to be content with safety and good pay instead of ridiculous yearnings for personal integrity Sarason got by being photographed shaking hands with the celebrated Negro Fundamentalist clergyman, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Nibbs, and through the highly publicized Sarason Prizes for the Negroes with the largest families, the fastest time in floor-scrubbing, and the longest periods of work without taking a vacation.”), so the “it” in modern America could include merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude form of the strong horrifying the weak.  A classic cliché expression is, “There is no alternative,” to the power dynamics of our economy, and another way to say this is that there is no alternative besides dictatorship and/or Zimbabwe-style economic failures, so every time that these power dynamics horrify us, we should be grateful that we’re not instead dealing with dictators’ outrages, and/or economic failures including massive unemployment, irrespective of any indefinable abstractions such as integrity.  If you’re in a Wagnerian conflict, and you simply must deal with your realities, then you simply must deal with them as Schopenhauer prescribed.  The psychology of, “You don’t want to think/act like a weak person, do you?” could be called a form of neo-Nazism.

 

 

Yet, in a society with rampant depression, one could just as easily call that “pragmatic logic”: the weak courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else), and what one deserves is completely irrelevant.  You can’t change your enemies, except for one.  Yet the limits of the threshold of human endurance are a fact, and if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.

“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is all about what the weak should do, believe, and take responsibility for.  Even sophisticated psychology tends to classify people, aspects of human nature, desires, etc., into categories that are very German, Freudian: übermensch means ineradicable so at least forgivable, while untermensch means true shamefulness, suspiciousness.  (And, of course, treating this moral bankruptcy as necessary for realism seems a lot better than does treating this as admirably open-minded and gutsy.)  These Oxford members no doubt tended to take his ideas about coping skills, to heart, since they wanted self-improvement that would build fiber.  After all, we must accept that if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose.  That self-responsible self-motivation is also how, and why, market discipline works; we must discipline even perfectly innocent failures.  The more that the weakness of the weak is blamed (What exactly is to blame when someone doesn’t protect himself well enough to succeed?): the more that they’d be motivated to take responsibility for taking care of themselves, the more hope that they’d have that they could change what causes their problems (themselves), and the more that we could all have faith in this red-blooded worldview.   Prejudice against the weak means an optimistic and patriotic faith in The System, and focusing on how the weak could hopefully solve their own problems if only they made themselves worthy, changed what they can.   “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.

 

Übermensch imperfection such as sinfulness would have to seem at least forgivable, while untermensch supposed imperfection would have to seem to be an insidious (as in “the hidden lie,” and, “We are all victims of victims.”) expression of weak people’s SELF-WILLS.  Dictator or no dictator, just about all of those in any society must define “personal responsibility” in basically the same predictable way and truly believe it, or different people would play by different rules, and plenty of people wouldn’t take the rules to heart when fortitude would be most necessary.  No doubt plenty of Oxford members who weren’t Himmler’s advisees, could have been just as easily, since they were just as free of whiny resentment; all “good” members followed the same school of psychology.  Depression is the only dread disease of which many of the causes seem sacrosanct.

Redblood is pretty much synonymous with übermensch, someone who’s at best honorable and at worst excusable, since strength looks so exciting and healthy.  Mollycoddle is pretty much synonymous with untermensch, someone who uses sneaky tactics to get coddled due to his weakness.  It seems that we must fear the untermenschen and their victim-power, and mustn’t fear the übermenschen and their freedoms.  When Rush Limbaugh said on January 21, 2009, “So I shamelessly say, no, I want [Obama] to fail,” and, “The Democrat Party and the left have attempted to arrange into groups of victims, and that’s who he appeals to, and the victims are the people waiting around for some grievance to be resolved,” it seemed only natural that appealing to victims, and resolving their grievances, are bad.

 

 

When the New York Times quoted an unnamed defense lawyer for Wall Street clients, on March 11, 2009, as saying, “We’ll all sing the stupidity song.  We’ll all sing the ‘These guys never told me’ song,” this was a good example of what redbloods, but not mollycoddles, could ultimately get away with.  Sure, with the economy falling off a cliff, many Americans would be very offended by the lawyers of some of the Wall Street executives who caused this, all singing the same song claiming that they’re weak.  Yet, in the end, many would figure that it really is necessary that when you hold someone morally or legally responsible, you make sure that his intent was actually bad.  Even if a job is so responsible that you’d expect a fairly high standard of care, it could still seem, in the end, that that’s just your opinion, and whiny opinions must never interfere with redbloods.  On the other hand, if someone fighting for the rights of any minority group had ever said that they’d evade responsibility for something important by, “We’ll all sing the stupidity song.  We’ll all sing the ‘These guys never told me’ song,” the American public would certainly be and remain outraged.  Those minorities would be mollycoddles trying to evade responsibility for their own welfare, which looks far more threatening than does redbloods trying to evade responsibility for their own greedy choices that were complicated enough that excuses for them would seem plausible.  You might think that since those on Wall Street had so much control over what they’d be held responsible for, and those minorities would have had so little control over what they’d be held responsible for, holding Wall Street responsible would seem more pro-freedom than would holding those minorities responsible.  Yet Wall Street’s responsibility would be for their daring that was supposed to accomplish something so would seem anti-freedom, and those minorities’ responsibility would be for their own welfare so would seem pro-freedom.

“Innovation,” as in “financial innovation,” is a magic word that makes Wall Street seem to me the epitome of great American pioneering, even though these innovations were dangerous, and maybe even intended to evade the rules.  As the International Monetary Fund wrote in Initial Lessons of the Crisis, “Although few crises seem inevitable, this is so only in retrospect: over-optimism in inferring the future from good times will surely recur.  Moreover, all solutions carry costs, and one must proceed in the anticipation that for every regulation there will be an innovation.”  Everyone knows that innovation requires an acceptance of risks.

Bill Moyers told of “what editorialists for the Wall Street Journal admiringly call ‘the animal spirits of business.’”  One could admire animal spirits since, as one could see in the pragmatism of addicts’ family members, if a society’s conception of personal responsibility stresses a response-ability for one’s own welfare, sure this could be called animalistic, but at the same time, those who’d have the personal responsibility would feel a far stronger motivation to live up to it as well as they could, than if the society stressed moral responsibility.  “Animal spirits” mean no untermensch manipulative machinations, utopian whining, artificiality, etc.

The Learning About Depression webpage on the Zoloft website, says, “If you have depression, this sad mood along with other symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years if not treated.  Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw.  It’s a real medical condition, but there are ways to successfully treat depression....  Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults.

 

Overcoming Depression: An Overview of Treatment Strategies says, “Most health professionals will agree that depression is an illness, not a weakness....  There are over 25 million people in this country who are struggling with depression.  It is estimated that one in five homes in the United States has a depressed person.  It’s a major illness but it is one that can be successfully treated.”

When you’ve seen ads and other guides that say things like this, you may have thought, “So how am I supposed to fit in with all this?  That obviously unnatural rate of depression should be taken seriously as a social problem.  That much hopelessness can’t be just a bunch of illusion and delusion, resulting from either 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, or 34,000,000 rather severe character flaws.  Yet it seems that ‘everyone knows’ that we’ll simply have to accept that human nature can wreak such damage.  It seems that the magnitude of this social problem could just be brushed aside, and would be by those who are gutsy enough.

“Someone would have to take responsibility for each problem, and that would have to be the victim.  No problem could really be a problem if the victim prevented solved or dealt with it well enough, so victims who don’t take care of their own problems well enough seem omni-responsible.  It’s more in line with red-blooded American tradition, to define ‘weaknesses of character,’ as mollycoddle weaknesses such as depression, rather than the red-blooded character flaws.  On the other hand, correcting the victims would seem realistic, productive, self-empowering, self-helping, etc., and would prevent the moral hazard of manipulation.

“Yet my natural common sense tells me that all all-or-nothing thinking probably leads to certain problems, especially all-or-nothing thinking that blames victims in a situation like this.  For example, as Rick Perlstein wrote in Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, Nixon really used an approach that condemned those who’d seem to go against anti-intellectualism, and as David Brock wrote in The Republican Noise Machine: Right Wing Media and How it Corrupts Democracy, Nixon and his allies really used and popularized this notion as they tried to evade responsibility for Watergate by acting as if concern about it was a ruse by the intellectual elite media, so Tricky Dicky could have planned Watergate knowing that that any time that anyone took it seriously, he’d seem to be an elitist victimizing him!  Dicky first won people over with his manipulatively saccharine and victim-posturing ‘Checkers Speech,’ and those who cared about how manipulative that was, were ‘the intellectual elite’!  And, of course, I’d have to take personal responsibility for my problems in general, even if I live in a society with rampant depression and my problem is of the sort that contributes to the rampant depression.  Since I can’t prove that my problem is one of those that, by a standard based on the threshold of human endurance, is too dangerous, my claims that it’s too dangerous could simply be dismissed as an ignominious manipulative ploy!  Those who are aware of how much this social problem affects the individual, aren’t whiners, but healthy skeptics!”  Just after the Watergate burglary, after Walter Cronkite gave a fifteen-minute description of it, Chuck Colson complained to CBS, and got them to reduce their following description to six-minutes, which obviously wasn’t as clear.  Chuck Colson wrote in a memo to Haldeman, “[CBS chairman] Paley was pleading,” and he, “sounded like a whipped dog and was almost on the verge of tears.  My voice was steely cold....  Chalk one up for our new task of destroying the old establishment.”

At the very least, victim correction as a panacea would mean bare-bones realism (“You’re the one who has the most reliable motivation to solve your problem.”), but since this looks so painfully morally bankrupt, that would probably also include some superstitious illusions (“You wanted that to happen, deserved it, etc.”)  As Saul Bellow wrote, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”  Every society must get its homeostasis from somewhere.  Whenever something happens that would disrupt how the society must function, someone would simply have to get things functioning again.  Those who don’t live up to these expectations, would have to be seen as having weak characters, passive tendencies, passive choices, etc.  When these attributions are so consistent and predictable that they make up the cognitive distortions that usually come with depression in a society, then they’re obviously culturally-based illusions.  Yet even intellectuals in that society are very likely to try to “be positive,” by seeing how even those who could be called helpless, would really have had a good chance of succeeding if only they chose to be more resolute.  If it feels good, believe it, and the cowboy thinking behind victim-blaming, feels good.

And. of course, one must ask what “passive” really means in a culture that must treat certain things, but not others, as ignominious.  Malcolm S. Salter’s Innovation Corrupted, The Origins and Legacy of Enron’s Collapse, includes,

Passive behavior as both decision makers and overseers was a hallmark of Enron’s board.  When unsure of the risks of aggressive investments and questionable accounting policies, and when vaguely worded or highly technical reports created confusion, board members were content to rely on other directors’ perceptions rather than to seek clarification.  The directors also manifested submissiveness and lack of deliberation in monitoring off-balance-sheet partnerships, and in their apparent fear of stepping on the toes of operating executives.  One board member who did dare to question management’s representations was viewed as being “too negative” and essentially asked to resign.

Yet no doubt those good ol’ boys in Texas thought that it was those who questioned management’s representations who were the “passive” ones, since they were disagreeing with the dynamic confidence of management’s faith that deregulation combined with Enron’s cowboy spirit would lead to great results.  In our day-to-day lives, one could say that assertiveness, or even avoiding certain problem people, is “passive,” since that’s how one defends his own rights, which means that he’d be acting as if his rights had been violated.  This is the sort of passivity that would seem ignominious: “too negative,” obstructionist, whiny, passive-aggressive, manipulative, glorifying martyrdom, etc.  Innovation Corrupted says that some risk assessment managers “let deals go unchallenged, to avoid being criticized as uncooperative and unentrepreneurial.”  The book also says, “Under what my Harvard colleague Chris Argyris terms ‘defensive reasoning,’ tacit premises are tested, if at all, against the self-referential logic used to create them,” and the same is true when this sort of logic is used in our day-to-day lives: it would seem that of course ignominious passivity is dangerous in its victim-power, the dangers of this moral bankruptcy don’t really matter in the long run, people must cooperate according to our social norms including how our culture defines “personal responsibility,” etc.  Sure, Enron’s slogan was “Ask why,” but one reason for Enron’s collapse was that if decision-makers asked “why?” about things that seemed pro-freedom, that may have led to their losing their jobs.

The previous webpage in this series begins with the quote from the character Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, “Greed is good.  Greed works, greed is right.  Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.  Greed in all its forms, greed for life, money, love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind....”  The previous webpage is on how victim correction as a panacea is largely based on the fact that no matter how high a society’s rate of depression may be, a personal responsibility that’s based on response-ability for one’s own welfare, would be more reliably motivated than would be a personal responsibility that’s based on moral responsibility.  This is also why greed works.  The basic idea of this webpage is that victim correction as a panacea clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.  Mollycoddle manipulators could cause big problems.  Plenty who aren’t overtly manipulating, but sincerely believe that someone OWES THEM SOMETHING, could also be called mollycoddle dangers.  On the other hand, the conceptions of personal responsibility behind victim correction as a panacea, clarify, in that they objectively determine whether someone is a winner or a loser.  This would cut through the abstractions involved in the words of anyone who assertively stands up for his own rights.  This could also be said to capture the essence of the evolutionary spirit, in that its determinations of worthiness or unworthiness are proudly gutsy rather than moralistic.  Since, as Hitler’s main inspiration, Arthur Schopenhauer, wrote, human nature makes people do and believe whatever serves their own SELF-WILLS, this objectivity would make sure that they satisfy them through striving for an upward surge, rather than by getting mollycoddled by playing the victim role.  As an “unidentified male” at a Wall Street party said in the CNN program Fall of the Fat Cats, which originally ran on October 18, 2008, said, “The fact is that the media has distorted and blown this out of proportion, because the media and the politicians are playing into people’s fears for their own self-serving purposes.”

Sure, Stanley Weiser, who wrote Wall Street, recently wrote, “I never could have imagined that [the Gekko] persona and his battle cry would become part of the public consciousness, and that the core message of Wall Street—remember, he goes to jail in the end—would be so misunderstood by so many.  Gordon Gekko has been mythologized and elevated from the role of villain to that of hero.”  Yet this really shouldn’t be surprising.  To hold that greed is good, has the pragmatic advantage that those who are responsible for doing something, would be those who are most motivated to do it well.  Also, this has a real emotional appeal.  To hold that greed is good, is good and gutsy, and hates parasitism.  The inefficiencies that the law of the jungle would reduce, do seem to mater, but the inefficiencies that it causes, don’t seem to matter since they seem to be life’s inherent imperfections.  On that Fall of the Fat Cats program, Wall Streeter Jordan Belfort, who committed fraud about which he wrote the book The Wolf of Wall Street, said about Gekko, “He was so super cool and super smooth and just on top of it, and nobody is fooling the ultimate shark.  It’s sort of like every average kid from the street’s dream is to be a Gordon Gekko.”

Sure, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on December 18, 2008 about the international economic summit in response to the Great Crash, that the economics that caused it involved “hateful practices.”  He also said, “We cannot continue along the same lines because the same problems will trigger the same disasters,” and, “We must not give way to fatalism.”  Yet those who believe in this sort of economics would say that the hateful practices are actually a form of tough love that’s just as tough on the unlucky as on the lazy, and that we should be optimistic, understanding, etc., enough to have faith that we won’t have the same disasters.  Sure, the way in which everyone else played a very passive role while Wall Street panicked, showed how fatalistic is an acceptance that others’ lives are so strongly shaped by the “masters of the universe” on Wall Street, but since they aren’t agents of the government, accepting even this power could be called “pro-freedom.”  It would seem to be just a coincidence that what Wall Street would still want even after the Great Crash, is also what would be best for everyone since it would mean that those who do what must be done would be very motivated to do it.

Alan Greenspan testified before a House committee on October 23, 2008, “Whatever regulatory changes are made, they will pale in comparison to the change already evident in today’s markets.  Those markets for an indefinite future will be far more restrained than would any currently contemplated new regulatory regime.”  It should be obvious to anyone that this is just a conservative trend, and that even businesses’ policy changes could very easily be overturned.  Yet trusting this as a real solution for the problem, seems just as emotionally appealing as did all of the other faith in the markets, that led to the financial meltdown, such as what Greenspan also told of on October 23, “I made a mistake, in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

As the Newsweek article The Senator and the Swiss Bank, Did Texas’ Phil Gramm help undo UBS?, by Daniel Gross, from July 8, 2008, says, “Since 2002, Gramm has been an executive with the U.S. operations of UBS, the giant Swiss Bank....  UBS’s investment banking unit made disastrous forays into subprime lending.....  UBS stands accused of selling retail brokerage customers products that turned out to be profitable for the bank’s investment banking unit but caused the customers to suffer significant losses....”

This is exactly the sort of lack of concern for a business’ own reputation, that laissez faire economics counts on not happening.  As Greenspan said in a speech before Georgetown in October, 2008, “In a market system based on trust, reputation has a significant economic value.  I am therefore distressed at how far we have let concerns for reputation slip in recent years.”  But, of course, Gramm will no doubt have plenty of excuses, and his fans would no doubt feel certain that anyone who doesn’t accept them is insidiously and manipulatively playing the victim role.

On March 1, 2001, Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, said, “How far he’s [Saddam] gone on the nuclear weapons side, I don’t think we really know.  My guess is it’s further than we think.  It’s always further than we think because we limit ourselves, as we think about this, to what we’re able to prove and demonstrate.  And unless you believe that we have uncovered everything, you have to assume there is more than we’re able to report.”  The same could be said about manipulative machinations.  If you presumed people suspected of them, innocent until proven guilty, then they’d go further than you think.  Unless you’d believe that you had uncovered everything, which would be pretty hard to do when you suspect someone you know of manipulative machinations, you’d have to assume there is more than you’re able to report.  While machinations certainly don’t have the danger of nuclear weapons, pitiful machinations do have certain considerable dangers, such as that disagreeing with them looks villainous.  Therefore, you’d have to end up treating a lot of  people who are actually innocent of machinations, as if they’re guilty.

Among the positivist belief systems that were popular in the 19th Century, was the Dogma of Irrationalism, which said that unless a question could be answered with objective certainty, it should be answered concretely, such as by force, rather than through subjective abstractions posing as the answer.  Currently, we’re most likely to hear this sort of thinking when looking at claims that those on the mollycoddle-untermensch side of the dichotomy, might make.  After all, their sincere opinions reflect their own SELF-WILLS, and could therefore be considered manipulative.  Resolving such questions concretely, such as by who objectively wins or loses contests of power, would clarify, cut through, and capture the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

As laissez faire economist Murray N. Rothbard wrote, “On the free market, everyone earns according to his productive value in satisfying consumer desires.  Under statist distribution, everyone earns in proportion to the amount he can plunder from the producers.”  If you win you win and if you lose you lose, which seems objective.  Greed seems good, since this is what Nietzsche would have called “honest” aggression, whereas standing up for what one deserves would be a “dishonest” plundering of what one wants.  And in our day-to-day lives, this is more likely to mean just plain assertively standing up for one’s own rights, than it is to mean getting anything from the state.  Any time that anyone stands up for his own rights, and you don’t think that he really does have a right to that, he’d seem to be trying to plunder manipulatively.  A society with a very laissez faire attitude, would tend to figure that people don’t have a right to things that would interfere with others’ doing what they want, even if those things seem good, righteous, etc.

Another reason why,

 

is that objections to what contributes to our rampant depression and anxiety disorders could seem to be mollycoddle, untermensch, attempts to manipulate and/or control redbloods, übermenschen.  It could seem that the weak aren’t really weak, since they have plenty of victim-power.  The more beleaguered they are, the more victim-power they have.  Since everyone wants what they want, any insistence that what was done to them was inexcusably wrong, would have to reflect what they want.  Sure, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” might sound amoral to a fascistic degree, but in reality, everyone’s objections to the sinfulness that impacts their own lives, would reflect their own SELF-WILLS.  Therefore, sooner or later, any such insistence could be labeled as self-serving.  Therefore, you’d seem basically manipulative.  The supposed untermensch suppressors and parasites look pretty scary, and you’d be one of them.

This exact same dichotomy could be seen in the Wagnerian worldview, including the worldview of the German philosopher who very much inspired Wagner’s outlook, Arthur Schopenhauer.  In The World as Will and Representation, wrote, “Wrong through violence is not so ignominious for the perpetrator as wrong through cunning, because the former is evidence of physical strength, which in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race.  The latter, on the other hand, by using the crooked way, betrays weakness, and at the same time degrades the perpetrator as a physical and moral being.”  Wrong through violence, is red-blooded, impressing people with strength.  Someone who intentionally is a mollycoddle, cunningly plays a helpless role in order to get coddled.  The word that we’d now use for cunning, is manipulative.

 

Redbloods are something like the Nietzschian übermenschen, the strong who in all circumstances powerfully impress the human race, since their strength seems dynamic, pro-freedom, etc.  Mollycoddles are something like the Nietzschian untermenschen, under-men, since they seem contemptible not because they chose to do anything morally wrong, but because they happen to be weak.  As Schopenhauer also wrote in The World as Will and Representation, “The concept of good is divided into two subspecies, that of the directly present satisfaction of the will in each case, and that of its merely indirect satisfaction concerning the future, in other words, the agreeable and the useful.  The concept of the opposite, so long as we are speaking of beings without knowledge, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case.”

The bottom line is that:  Redbloods in all circumstances powerfully impress the human race.  Since mollycoddles use their weakness to get coddled, they’re manipulative, ignominiously and exploitively cunning, even when they sincerely mean everything they say, since if they think that something is bad or evil then that would reflect their own SELF-WILLS.  To say that your feelings that something was bad or evil reflect a striving of your WILL, is to say that that they’re manipulative, reflecting a self-serving hidden agenda that even you probably aren’t aware of.  All you know is that you’re right.  Of course, the bad or evil person’s bad or evil choices, his belief that excusing or forgiving them is what’s right, etc., certainly reflect the striving of his WILL, but it would seem that we simply must accept that that’s the way that human nature is.  What you end up with, both in Germany and in the USA, is that the strong are übermenschen/redbloods so they tend to get the personal rights, and the weak are untermenschen/mollycoddles unless they just shut up and deal with their own problems, so they tend to get the personal responsibilities.  The stronger you are, the more likely you are to have what’s exciting, pro-freedom, übermensch, red-blooded, self-reliant, etc., on your side.  Caring about moral wrongness, other than what religious rules say, could very easily seem WILLFULLY emotionalistic: resentful, manipulative, melodramatic, self-righteous, whiny, etc. (the supposed triumph of the manipulative will).

Of course, one could legitimately see some things that he wants to dislike as evil, while seeing other things he doesn’t like as evil, would seem illegitimate.  The following comes from Atlas Shrugged:

  • “I thought I must tell you that the Legislature has just passed the Equalization of Opportunity Bill.”

    ...He shook his head.  There are things one must not contemplate, he thought.  There is an obscenity of evil which contaminates the observer.  There is a limit to what is proper for a man to see.  He must not think of this, or look within it, or try to learn the nature of its roots.

  • (on a desolate highway approaching a failed factory) “I don’t like it either.”  Then she smiled.  “But think how often we’ve heard people complain that billboards ruin the appearance of the countryside.  Well, there’s the unruined countryside for them to admire.”  She added, “They’re the people I hate.”

  • The purchasing manager shook his head.  “No, Mr. Rearden, it’s one or the other.  The same kind of brain can’t do both.  Either you’re good at running the mills or you’re good at running to Washington.”

    “Maybe I ought to learn their method.”

    “You couldn’t learn it and it wouldn’t do you any good.  You wouldn’t win in any of those deals.  Don’t you understand?  You’re the one who’s got something to be looted.”

    When he was left alone, Rearden felt a jolt of blinding anger, as it had come to him before, painful, single and sudden like an electric shock—the anger bursting out of the knowledge that one cannot deal with pure evil, with the naked, full-conscious evil that neither has nor seeks justification.  But when he felt the wish to fight and kill in the rightful cause of self-defense—he saw the fat, grinning face of Mayor Bascom and heard the drawling voice saying, “... you and the charming lady who is not your wife.”

  • It was rumored that one had to observe a certain unwritten rule when dealing with Midas Mulligan: if an applicant for a loan ever mentioned his personal need or any personal feeling whatever, the interview ended and he was never given another chance to speak to Mr. Mulligan.

    “Why yes, I can,” said Midas Mulligan, when he was asked whether he could name a person more evil than the man with a heart closed to pity.  “The man who uses another’s pity for him as a weapon.”

  • “Rewards were based on need, and the penalties on ability.  Those whose needs were voted to be the greatest, received the most.  Those who had not produced as much as the vote said they could, were fined and had to pay the fines by working overtime without pay.  That was our plan.  It was based on the principle of selflessness.  It required men to be motivated, not by personal gain, but by love for their brothers.”

    Dagny heard a cold, implacable voice saying somewhere within her: Remember it—remember it well—it is not often that one can see pure evil—look at it—remember—and some day you’ll find the words to name its essence....  She heard it through the screaming of other voices that cried in helpless violence: It’s nothing—I’ve heard it before—I’m hearing it everywhere—it’s nothing but the same old tripe—why can’t I stand it?—I can’t stand it—I can’t stand it!

  • No—he thought, looking at [his wife] Lillian, with the last effort of his generosity—he would not believe it of her.  In the name of whatever grace and pride she possessed—in the name of such moments when he had seen a smile of joy on her face, the smile of a living being—in the name of the brief shadow of love he had once felt for her—he would not pronounce upon her a verdict of total evil.

  • Ever since I can remember, I had felt that I would kill the man who’d claim that I exist for the sake of his need—and I had known that this was the highest moral feeling.  That night, at the Twentieth Century meeting, when I heard an unspeakable evil being spoken in a tone of moral righteousness, I saw the root of the world’s tragedy, the key to it, and the solution.

  • Dagny, when I took over my father’s business, when I began to deal with the whole industrial system of the world, it was then that I began to see the nature of the evil I had suspected, but thought too monstrous to believe.  I saw the tax-collecting vermin that had grown for centuries like mildew on d’Anconia Copper...

  • I would not surrender them to the educational systems devised to stunt a child’s brain, to convince him that reason is impotent, that existence is an irrational chaos with which he’s unable to deal, and thus reduce him to a state of chronic terror.  You marvel at the difference between my children and those outside, Miss Taggart?  Yet the cause is so simple.  The cause is that here, in Gait’s Gulch, there’s no person who would not consider it monstrous ever to confront a child with the slightest suggestion of the irrational.

    ...Fear?  Yes—but it was more than fear.  It was the kind of emotion that makes men capable of killing—when I thought that the purpose of the world’s trend was to destroy these children, that these three sons of mine were marked for immolation.  Oh yes, I would have killed—but whom was there to kill?  It was everyone and no one, there was no single enemy, no center and no villain, it was not the simpering social worker incapable of earning a penny or the thieving bureaucrat scared of his own shadow, it was the whole of the earth rolling into an obscenity of horror, pushed by the hand of every would-be decent man who believed that need is holier than ability, and pity is holier than justice.  [Of course, the social workers probably had plenty to simper about, since their clients tend not to be “looters” who are manipulatively playing the victim role, but everyone knows that whiners, in general, are bad.]

  • It was this valley that I saw as possible and would exchange for nothing less and would not give up to a mindless evil.

  • “Well, observe that you never hear that accusation in defense of innocence, but always in defense of guilt.  You never hear it said by a good person about those who fail to do him justice.  But you always hear it said by a rotter about those who treat him as a rotter, those who don’t feel any sympathy for the evil he’s committed or for the pain he suffers as a consequence.  Well, it’s true—that is what I do not feel.  But those who feel it. feel nothing for any quality of human greatness, for any person or action that deserves admiration, approval, esteem.  These are the things I feel.  You’ll find that it’s one or the other.  Those who grant sympathy to guilt, grant none to innocence.  Ask yourself which, of the two, are the unfeeling persons.  And then you’ll see what motive is the opposite of charity.”

    “What?” she whispered.

    “Justice, Cherryl.”

    ...“Cherryl, what you’ve been struggling with is the greatest problem in history, the one that has caused all of human suffering.  You’ve understood much more than most people, who suffer and die. never knowing what killed them.  I’ll help you to understand.  It’s a big subject and a hard battle—but first, above all, don’t be afraid.

    “...It’s true.  Some people do want to destroy it.  And when you learn to understand their motive, you’ll know the darkest, ugliest, and only evil in the world, but you’ll be safely out of its reach.”

  • There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

  • Calmly and impersonally she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.

The proto-Nazi quality of Schopenhauer would have accepted this version of seeing what oneself doesn’t like as evil, though.  As Niebuhr wrote in The Nature and Destiny of Man, “There is a peculiar irony in the fact that [Nietzsche’s] doctrine, which was meant as an exposure of the vindictive transvaluation of values engaged in by the inferior classes, should have itself become a vehicle of the pitiful resentments of the lower middle classes of Europe in their fury against more powerful aristocratic and proletarian classes.”  Resentment against those who’d seem to have deserved what they got, including considering them to be evil, would seem to be basically manipulative, while having this attitude toward those who didn’t seem to have deserved it, would seem noble.  Of course, it’s always hard to determine what someone really does deserve, other that the objective, Objectivist, standard of if you win then you’re a winner and if you rot then you’re a rotter, even if your rotting isn’t your fault.  Only in that way could justice seem to be the opposite of charity, or even of fairness that the victim doesn’t have the power to bring into being, other than in situations where the wrongness is unambiguous.  Therefore, though it should be obvious how those on Wall Street would want to believe that those who oppose their deregulation, including those who want to have middle-of-the-road approaches, are evil unless it can be unambiguously proven that that level of deregulation is dangerous, want to believe this, they wouldn’t get the proto-Nazi approach of, “The concept of the opposite, so long as we are speaking of beings without knowledge, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case.”  This also fits Nietzsche’s definition of evil as, “whatever springs from weakness,” unless the weak simply take response-ability for their own problems.

As Niebuhr wrote in The Nature and Destiny of Man, “romanticism is primarily concerned to assert the vitality of nature and to preserve it against the peril of enervation.”  Of course, this means the vitality vs. enervation of the übermenschen.  Attempts to re-engineer untermensch human nature would seem not only fine, but necessary.  “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” really would be necessary in order for this vitality to lead to as few permanent problems as possible.  Just imagine the strife that would result if neither the sinners nor the victims were enervated!  Of course we’d want those nervy WHINERS to be enervated!

An extreme example of this (which still shows how natural this sort of dichotomy could seem to Americans) is in the following, from Ann Jones’ book on domestic violence, Next Time She’ll be Dead:

From Sherman’s perspective, “What prevents police from preventing repeat violence is the deep reverence for privacy in American life.”  The underlying cause of “domestic violence,” he thinks, is not male dominance, but things like “adultery, alcoholism, or just plain argumentativeness”; and these matters, he says, drawing upon the familiar assumptions of ventilationist psychology, are related to the “intimate emotions of a sexual relationship.”  “Given a choice between privacy and prevention,” he says, “Americans choose privacy.”  We must ask, which Americans?  Whose privacy?  It doesn’t seem to occur to Sherman that women and “Americans” see things differently.

This book also includes, “When the House first passed a Domestic Violence bill in 1980 to provide some emergency services, the Washington Star urged the Senate to vote it down and keep ‘the long arm of Washington bureaucracy’ out of ‘private life’...  Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority mobilized against the bill and flooded Senators with mail warning them not to ‘meddle with family matters.’”

Sure, to see violence as honorably red-blooded as versus the mollycoddles who’d try to stop it, might look as if it might as well be Schopenhauer’s treating violence as übermensch as versus the untermenschen whose SELF-WILLS would be expressed through their assertively standing up for their own rights.  “Ventilationist psychology” is very Wagnerian.  It might also seem that now, people take domestic violence more seriously than they did when Sherman wrote that.  At the same time, it really does show how naturally it could seem to figure that we must accept outrageous behavior in the name of protecting adversarial individualism.  Sure, right now it seems only natural to accept a lot of the non-violent outrageous behavior that contributes to our rampant depression, in the name of protecting all-American adversarial individualism, but that doesn’t mean that we’d always have a deep reverence for the norms that say that, at the very least, those who don’t excuse such behavior are too controlling, ignominiously cunningly manipulative, etc.

This is the heading of the section of Al-Anon’s workbook Blueprint for Progress, Al-Anon’s Fourth Step Inventory, for those who seem to be codependent to take a fearless moral inventory of behaviors, including helpful ones, that are labeled as “controlling.”  Those who’d supposedly be controlled would be addicts, but attempts to control them through supposedly being nice, would still seem ignominiously cunningly untermensch, which doesn’t seem excusable.  If you object to sinfulness, that’s really your will-to-power.

 

Next Time She’ll Be Dead quotes Bach and Wyden’s Intimate Enemy, which held that domestic violence is only natural, as protesting, “[The abusive husband] may become a target of shame and condemnation and may even provide the victim with an excuse to exit and ‘win’ a divorce.”  Obviously, the only reason why “win” would be in quotation marks, is that though a victim would win a divorce through a supposed technicality, proving victimhood isn’t really how one wins, becomes a winner, in life.

Indefensible, therefore, seems to mean defenseless.  If what one did was indefensible, then those harmed by it would have so much victim-power that he’d be defenseless.  After all, when they’d hold him accountable, they’d be motivated by their own SELF-WILLS, so he could seem to be their victim.  Since he’s the übermensch, and they’re the untermenschen, it would also seem only natural to regard his SELF-WILL as honorable and at least forgivable, and their SELF-WILLS as dishonorable and insidious.

Here’s why doing good things, being a “humanitarian do-gooder,” could seem to endanger freedom and individual initiative, that your good deeds allow others to get what they want simply by controlling you through moral pressure.  Accepting people’s opinions about moral responsibility could actually be a moral hazard, the sort that could be very powerful, very forceful and compelling, and one can’t defend himself against it without looking as if he’s re-victimizing victims. This would allow the victimologists with the best sophistry to get what they want by manipulating others.  Arnold Schwarzenegger’s media expert felt comfortable planning to create a “phenomenon of anger” in the public toward public employees’ unions, but it would seem horrible to create a phenomenon of pity in the public.

 

           

 

The main role model for self-help for people (mostly women) in trouble, has got to be the ladies’ auxiliaries of Twelve-Step groups, those like Al-Anon, which were set up specifically to use the transcendent spirituality of the Twelve-Step groups, to help addicts’ friends and loved ones deal with the problems that the addicts cause them.  In one of the comic series off of the webpage that gives all of the Al-Anon comics from 1968-1974, a woman with an alcoholic husband endures plenty of problems from him, including domestic violence, wherein she gets a black eye.  Before she joins Al-Anon, she tries to get him to sober up, by moving out:

Of course, he does drink again, after which she joins Al-AnonAt her first meeting, one member tells her, “Welcome.  We were lonely and troubled, too.  We can understand as few can,” and another tells her, “You can be happy even if your husband doesn’t stop drinking.”  When she goes home, as she reads a pamphlet titled “Living with an Alcoholic,” and looks very beleaguered, she thinks, “Those women are so happy.  Maybe if I do what they say, I can be like them.”  Once she develops the outlook that Al-Anon tells her she should have, after her husband apologizes for drinking again, she tells him, with a very open body language, “There’s nothing to forgive.  You drink because you’re sick.  I know that now.”  The next frame is captioned, “She learns to accept the things she can’t change (Jim’s drinking), and to change the things she can (herself,)” and shows her at a playground with their kids, thinking, “This is so much better than staying home and watch Jim get drunk.”  The first frame of the last comic in this series, shows two of their kids referring to their father’s behavior as “mean,” but saying that they now understand that he’s just a passive victim of his disease of addiction.  In the very last frame, the reformed Jane says to an Al-Anon meeting, “Before I came to Al-Anon, I was doing a lot of things I thought would help my husband stop drinking.  But I was just making things worse.  Now I know he will stop when he’s ready [though if his disease of addiction really did make him not guilty be reason of insanity, he wouldn’t stop when he’s ready].  In the meantime, Al-Anon has taught me to be a better, happier person.”

 

 

Chances are that a very small percentage of the women who leave their alcoholic husbands in the hope that this would make them “hit bottom,” would respond to their husbands’ promises that they’d get sober, by skewing their eyebrows, clasping their hands together under their chins, glancing out of the corners of their eyes in the opposite direction of their husbands, and smiling slightly, all in a conspiratorial fashion.  She looked like she might as well have been a cackling witch, eagerly rubbing her hands together.  Sure, a worldview that believes that people are simply supposed to deal with their own problems, even those that involve hardship, others’ sinfulness, etc., ad infinitum, by courageously changing what they can and serenely accepting whatever they can’t, would think that if an addict’s wife tries to get him to hit bottom by moving out, then that would be manipulatively controlling, guilt-tripping, trying to play upon his emotions, etc.  Yet, in fact, chances are that the only good feelings that women in such situations would have, would be, if they thought that their husbands would sober up, a relief that the hardship, sinfulness, etc., would presumably stop.

 

           

 

We really would have to end up with something like the philosophy of Ayn Rand.  The Wikipedia webpage on Ayn Rand says, “When asked in a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club what the most influential book in the respondent’s life was, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was the second most popular choice, after the Bible.”  In Atlas Shrugged, the world’s billionaires go on strike to protest the ways in which they claim to be victimized by guv’mint, and the world soon sees how much it needs them.  As How Did the Taft-Hartley Act Come About? says, “The act allowed the president, when he believed that a strike would endanger national health or safety, to appoint a board of inquiry to investigate the dispute.  After receiving the report of the investigation, the president could ask the Attorney General to seek a federal court injunction to block or prevent the continuation of the strike.  If the court found that the strike was endangering the nation’s health or safety it would grant the injunction, requiring the parties in the dispute to attempt to settle their differences within the next sixty days.”  Yet, as Atlas Shrugged says, breaking a strike of the rich would be a lot more difficult than that, since you could force people to do thing, but not to think.  The book ends with the strikers, confident that their strike had made everyone else so desperate that they’d be willing to accept anything, plotting their new society, including a judge unilaterally rewriting the American Constitution such as by adding, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade....”

Of course, the only reason why anyone would care that Atlas shrugged, is that he’s powerful enough to impact all.  Yet this has a tone of might-makes-right, that since he’s strong, then he must be a free-spirited achiever, and those he hurt must be untermenschen, so they’d better not whine about being hurt.  If they do, they could seem manipulative, as if they’re trying to finagle their way into getting more than they earned/won.  Weakness seems to be the ultimate weapon.  She referred to the rich as “really alive,” and the untermenschen as “savages,” “refuse,” “inanimate objects,” “imitations of living beings.”  It isn’t really necessary for people to feel uncertain, for them to prefer somebody who’s strong and wrong to somebody who’s weak and right, since strength is objective (and exciting self-motivated pro-freedom vibrant and straightforward), and rightness is subjective (and moralistic idealistic restrictive inhibiting and potentially manipulative).  Of course, if any of the übermenschen had been unlucky enough not to succeed, they’d probably not be happy enough to seem “really alive,” so they’d be among those who’d better accept that when Atlas shrugs, he’d have every right to.  And if the Randroids were, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it, an “irrational fringe,” Rand wouldn’t have been put on an American postage stamp.

Of course, if the rich tried to get their way by playing the part of Atlas by going on strike, other people could simply take their place, and do the same things that they do.  A more indubitable argument for the law of the jungle in the economic sphere, would be that no matter how much or how little the winners and losers deserve to be winners and losers, the law of the jungle would give the strongest motivator for everyone to try to succeed.  This is a lot like the fact that what the speech that lost Dr. Frederick Goodwin his job in the first Bush administration because of his saying that criminal youth in the ghetto are like monkeys running around in the jungle, wasn’t really racist, since he said, “You are going to leverage it through individuals, not through large social engineering of society.”  Sure, Eliot Spitzer said on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, on March 22, 2009 about Wall Street, “...it’s kind of odd, because everybody derided leverage in public, but in private, participated to the hilt,” though Dr. Goodwin obviously had no problem with honoring it in public, or even with not setting risk-benefit limits, as long as the leverage is the pragmatism of people taking response-ability for their own welfare.  (Possibly, talk about leverage is like locker-room talk: both sound offensive most of the time, but when it’s time to act gutsy, both seem ideal.)  One could disprove that ghetto youth are any more monkey-like than are any other youth, but the fact would still remain that each individual is the person who’s the most reliably motivated to deal with whatever his problems are.  Once we figure that the most reliable way to motivate people to do whatever needs to get done, is to tell everyone that they’ll suffer the consequences of failing no matter how much they could prove that their failures weren’t their fault, then it would seem only natural to honor strength and dishonor weakness.  The post-Reagan/Thatcher conception of personal responsibility is like an economic bubble, in that, using too much leverage, people’s excited, sardonic, “optimistic” emotions will keep pushing this to get bigger and bigger, since it seems necessary for freedom, realism, etc., and it will finally get so big that the bubble pops.

 

 

On the other hand, as the Great Crash of 2008 shows, the rich can get their way by acting fearful.  On January 13, 2009, David Gergen said in a fairly saccharine tone of voice, on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, about the second half of the Wall Street bailout being released, “The Democrats are not going to let the financial community collapse at this point,” as if either we give them the money or the community would destroy itself.  On January 15, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Inaction now [on passing the second half of the bailout] would punish the American public that is already suffering.”  (And, of course, no matter how much the government had to bail Wall Street out, it would still seem that they had to remain The Masters of the Universe, since they’d be the most reliably motivated to try to get the money to where it was most likely to do the most good.)  If they’re afraid to let loose of their money, then we’d have no other choice but to bail out those who are having big problems.  No one else could step in and take the place of those who are hanging onto their money.  No matter how irrational their fears are, no one is treating them as if yielding to irrational fears constitutes a weak character.  We simply realize that those having trouble have to get their bailout.  When, on September 26, Senator Judd Gregg said, “They’re telling us we better do something, and they’re telling us in pretty stark terms,” this meant that all that the financial markets had to do was freeze-up loans, and, as long as this wasn’t an actual conspiracy, they could tell us to give them our money.  As Henry Paulson said on November 18, 2008, “The actions of the Treasury, the Fed, and the FDIC have stabilized our financial system.

As Matthew Tuttle, president of Tuttle Wealth Management said on March 1, 2009, “I do think, unfortunately, [the stock market will go lower than it was in November] unless the administration can get their act together and come out with statements and policies and details that are market-friendly.  If not, the banks are going to continue to deteriorate and we’re going to keep hitting our head on that (S&P) 741.”  Of course, “market-friendly” policies would often mean that the bankers would be what Atlas Shrugged called  “looters,” i.e. those who’d get from the government money that it got through mandatory taxes, but that wouldn’t matter; either they get what they want, or else.

“The authorities in the TARP have been used to strengthen our financial system and to prevent the harm to our economy and financial system from the failure of a systemically important institution.”

 

 

 

 

 

One big theme of Atlas Shrugged is that a morality that cares about what people need, is actually a violation of the morality that bases entitlement on ability, and to keep our society functioning as much as possible, we simply must reward achievement as much as possible.  Sure, our system tries to fulfill people’s needs, but sometimes this doesn’t work.  A morality based on need would mean a form of SELF-WILL that would consist of people greedily and competitively trying to “prove” that they need what they want, rather than greedily and competitively trying to achieve it.  What someone needs could be a matter of opinion, whereas what they won or lost is objective.  Talking about need sounds mollycoddle, but talking about achievement sounds red-blooded.  We’d have a far more peaceful and productive society if everyone just accepted that they, and everyone else, won whatever they won and lost whatever they lost, since that’s objective, rational.

Yet the same thing could be said about a morality based on fairness.  Sure, our system tries to be fair, but sometimes this doesn’t work.  Any morality would mean a form of SELF-WILL that would consist of people greedily and competitively trying to “prove” that their getting what they want would be what’s fair, rather than greedily and competitively trying to achieve it.  What’s fair or unfair is very much a matter of opinion, whereas what anyone won or lost is objective.  In fact, even if all that you expect is fairness, you might as well be expecting fulfillment of your needs, since someone would have to provide either of these for you, and what you think is fair could be merely what you need. Talking about unfairness sounds mollycoddle, but talking about achievement sounds red-blooded.  We’d have a far more peaceful and productive society if everyone just accepted that they, and everyone else, won whatever they won and lost whatever they lost, since that’s objective, rational.  It also sounds a lot more reasonable to say, “Oh, well, life isn’t fair,” than it is to say, “Oh, well, sometimes you can get what you need, and sometimes you can’t.”  It could very easily seem that even if this time you lost unfairly, next time you could win.  Sure, unfairness could mean both, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference,” and, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” but the same realism and self-responsibility apply to both, since what could possibly make any difference for the victims?  Otherwise, how could we get through the consequences of the financial meltdown of 2008, and continue trusting Wall Street to fill the role they play in our economy?,  Also, at all times, some individuals have to get through the same sorts of things happening in their own lives.  One could call this

 

 

After all, Ayn Rand treated victimology and victimhood as evil, surreptitious ways for the victims to get what they want.  Sure, she figured that people could get fairness, if they’re the ones who have the money and related power, and they used it to reward the responsible and fair, and punish the irresponsible and unfair.  If you’re the powerless one, though, like those who go to self-help books to find out how to deal with problems that problematic lovers cause them, your only reliable way of defending yourself would be to do whatever it takes to make yourself invulnerable to him.  After all, we’re all response-able for taking care of ourselves.  If you tried to stand up for yourself assertively, The Ayn Rand Treatment would mean being treated as if you might as well be using the manipulative approach, and/or the whiny approach, and/or the “unrealistic reliance on niceties” approach.  As with Ayn Rand’s admitted absolutism, it would seem that

 

 

After all, anything else would be abstract, and possibly controlling.  As she wrote in Atlas Shrugged, “In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win.  In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.”  As any self-help book regarding how you’d take care of yourself in the face of victimization, would say, your problem is your problem, the person who caused it isn’t reliably motivated to solve it, and half-measures in your solving it (as well as whining, etc.) would avail you absolutely nothing.  Self-responsibility along the lines of the law of the jungle, works, eventually, if you try hard enough.  Self-blame is the can-do attitude for people in trouble.  Losers lose and winners win.

You might think that beggars can’t be choosers, especially if they created their own poverty and now they’re being rescued, but if they have the power to cause a big economic disruption, they could be choosers.  An article in the Washington Post said, “But by attempting to limit executive pay, [some Democrats] risk alienating key Republicans who object to such restrictions and delaying passage of the rescue plan, which in turn may stir renewed fear in the markets.”  Paulson said, “If we design it so it’s punitive and so institutions aren’t going to participate, this won’t work the way we need it to work....  But we need this system to work, and so we—the reforms need to come afterwards.”  The Wall Street Journal said about this, “He fears that provision would render the program moot, since many firms might choose not to participate.”  Therefore, it seems that simply by making executive pay proportional to success rather than the quantity of sales, and other similar reforms, that could make so many companies unwilling to be rescued through a form of charity, that this could stir renewed fear in the markets.  It seems that we simply must yield to their fear, since Atlas shrugging would have such a big impact on the world.

An article dated September 25 on the website of the Wall Street Journal about Bush’s speech on the bailout, Bush Makes Pitch for Plan to the Nation, by John D. McKinnon, says, “He said that under normal circumstances he would be willing to see struggling companies fail.”  What he actually said in his speech was, “I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business.   Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course.”  Of course, to call their greed “bad decisions” is quite a euphemism.  But even if this were simply bad decisions, if someone referred to a middle-class family that was failing because it made some very risky bad decisions, and is now trying to get bailed-out, as “struggling,” the sardonic redbloods who’d love the Wall Street Journal, would be outraged.  And, of course, one big difference between genuine struggling families who made bad decisions, and the companies to be bailed out, is that we cynically assume that the families’ pleas really reflect their own SELF-WILLS and we’d better be afraid of SELF-WILLS that are that insidious, but we accept that the businesses that get the bailout are and will always be greedy, since this selfishness is of the sort that Nietzsche called “honest.”  The Wall Street Journal had no problem referring to the bailout plan as the “rescue plan,” so obviously those sardonic yuppies had no problem with guv’mint rescue as long as the rich were being rescued.

Also, Bush’s speech included, “Investment banks, such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, found themselves saddled with large amounts of assets they could not sell....  Other banks found themselves in severe financial trouble.  These banks began holding on to their money, and lending dried up, and the gears of the American financial system began grinding to a halt.”  Of course, those who contributed to the economic meltdown had passively “found themselves in severe financial trouble,” to different degrees.  Yet it would seem horrendous if you referred to families facing the big consequences of bad decisions, in general, as simply finding themselves in financial trouble.

This sort of double standard, could be called The New Manipulation.  This manipulates people, by the strong playing the victim role.  After all, manipulation is a form of victimization.  When “redbloods” get restricted, and/or others coddle “mollycoddles” because these others were guilt-tripped, this also victimizes people.  Unlike the “inteellctualism” that supports such supposed VICTIM-POWER, the anti-intellectualism that adamantly opposes it has no problem with just slapping simplistic and unproven labels onto people, such as “manipulator.”  We must watch out for “victimology,” “victimhood,” “serial victims,” etc.  These simplistic labels are far more suited to the Wagnerian appeal that this anti-intellectualism has, than would be distinguishing the manipulators from those who are sincere.  Therefore, we have here a new form of manipulation, that really does have the dangers of manipulation, in that it allows people to act like victims of the diabolical untermenschen, simply by slapping unproven labels on them.  You can’t prove most manipulative, passive-aggressive, codependent, etc., machinations, so “presumed innocent of machinations until proven guilty” is out of the question.

 

 

It’s amazing how many conservatives respond to the Great Crash of 2008 as if liberals are manipulatively using it as a tool, an excuse to get what they want.  Obviously, the victims didn’t create the problem in a passive-aggressive manner to give them an opportunity to play a parasitical role.  As one talks about how this leaves many people helpless, this obviously isn’t just his self-serving or self-righteous opinion.  Yet it’s always possible to treat him as if he’s still using this as a manipulative tool.  And even if the long-term consequences of the crisis were severe, it would always be possible to treat a given individual hurt by it as if, if only he tried harder or smarter, he could have succeeded, so to blame his problems on the Great Crash of 2008 would be a manipulative ploy.  Even during the Great Depression, people had to keep trying anyway.  “Sure, this problem exists, and sure, the fact that it has these huge consequences isn’t just your opinion, but you’re still using it as a tool to get what you want manipulatively,” and, “No matter what is going on outside of you, you could always find opportunities to succeed if only you were good enough,” would always work.

The “seven propaganda devices” that the Institute for Propaganda Analysis observed in the 1930s being used by those such as fascist Father Charles Coughlin, which were then described in The Fine Art of Propaganda in 1939, were: Name Calling, Glittering Generality, Transfer, Testimonial, Plain Folks, Card Stacking, and Band Wagon.  A more ad hoc and everyday version of propaganda, could be called manipulation.  Yet the sort of manipulation that fascists would use, wouldn’t look like the sort of ignominious cunning done by untermenschen, that we tend to fear as manipulation.  This sort of Name Calling, would accuse the weak of choosing to be weak for “fun” and/or profit.  This sort of Glittering Generality would treat übermensch attributes as ideal.  This sort of Transfer would transfer the mystique from übermensch people and things.  This sort of Testimonial would be from people who were selected since when they simply took response-ability for their own problems no matter who was ethically responsible for them, this only improved their lives.  The Plain Folks who we’re supposed to trust so much, believe in this gutsy populism.  This would involve the stacking of just the right sophistry.  And we’d be told that we should conform to the gutsy expectations, get on the Reaganist bandwagon.

 

 

The American public has turned against Karl Rove, for exactly this sort of manipulation.  But then again, this may be because the main problem that his manipulative machinations have defended, has been the Iraq War.  It could be called “the most screwed-up guv’mint program in American history, though, as usual, the guv’mint refuses to take responsibility for the screw-ups, by insisting that it represents what is good, and the victims, while those who want the program to stop represent what is bad, and the victimizers.  As usual, the more that the guv’mint program would fail the more that it would seem we need to continue it, etc.”  When I. “Scooter” Libby’s lawyer, in his opening statement, called Rove, “the lifeblood of the Republican party,” this said that manipulation was the lifeblood of the Republican party.

Of course, if instead Rove were saying, “We should minimize guv’mint programs to help the poor.  To maintain these programs, the guv’mint refuses to take responsibility for any screw-ups, by insisting that it represents what is good, and the victims, while those who want the program. to stop represent what is bad, and the victimizers.  As usual, the more that the guv’mint program would fail the more that it would seem we need to continue it, etc.,” plenty of Americans would instead be cheering him!

Atlas Shrugged includes some elements of Timothy McVeigh’s beloved book, The Turner DiariesAtlas Shrugged includes a hero murdering a state legislator who tried to revoke a charter granted to him, and also, “He threw down three flights of stairs a distinguished gentleman who offered him a loan from the government.”  Another hero sends a train into a tunnel though it emits a smoke that would make this unsafe, under orders from various controlling whiners, which doesn’t seem to matter since all the passengers contributed in some way to the non-Libertarian status quo.  “There was not a man aboard the train who did not share one or more of their ideas.”  This includes, “The woman in Roomette 9, Car No. 12, was a housewife who believed that she had a right to elect politicians. of whom she knew nothing, to control giant industries, of which she had no knowledge.” 

The book includes as a hero, a very pro-establishment, pro-laissez-faire, pirate named Ragnar Danneskjöld, who “...seized every loot-carrier that came within range of my guns, every government relief ship, subsidy ship, loan ship, gift ship, every vessel with a cargo of goods taken by force from some men for the unpaid, unearned benefit of others,” as well as blowing up the manufacturing plants of companies that use patents without paying the licensing fees since the government made them public domain, etc.

The book says that the original owner of one of these patents asked Danneskjöld, “You choose to live by force, like the rest of them.”  He responds, “Yes—openly.  Honestly, if you will.  I do not rob men who are tied and gagged, I do not demand that my victims help me, I do not tell them that I am acting for their own good.  I stake my life in every encounter with men, and they have a chance to match their guns and their brains against mine in fair battle.  Fair?  It’s I against the organized strength, the guns, the planes, the battleships of five continents.  If it’s a moral judgment that you wish to pronounce, Mr. Rearden, then who is the man of higher morality, I or Wesley Mouch?”

This might sound like an idiosyncratic and sophomoric ideology, that would say that researchers who research our rampant depression as a social problem, who insist that it’s the society that causes depression to affect 34,000,000 Americans rather than defects inside of the 34,000,000 affected individuals, are blame-finding, mollycoddling, intellectuals.

Wall Street Under Oath, by Ferdinand Pecora, chief counsel for the investigation of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, 1933-1934, copyright 1939, says in its preface, “Frequently we are told that this regulation has been throttling the country’s prosperity....  Indeed, if you now hearken to the Oracles of The Street, you will hear now and then that the money-changers have been much maligned....  You will be assured that they had nothing to do with the misfortunes that overtook the country in 1929-1933; that they were simply scapegoats, sacrificed on the altar of unreasoning public opinion to satisfy the wrath of a howling mob blindly seeking victims.”  It’s inevitable that we’ll hear the same logic about the financial meltdown of 2008, since this is achievement-oriented, is optimistic, hates supposed passive-aggressive victimhood, and seems to know what’s really going on with those who use victim-power.

A chapter of Atlas Shrugged, titled THE UTOPIA OF GREED since the striking rich people set up their own utopia which firmly insists on self-responsibility, includes:

 

         

 

“Do you remember?  It was the time when you did not hear from me for three years, Dagny, when I took over my father’s business, when I began to deal with the whole industrial system of the world, it was then that I began to see the nature of the evil I had suspected, but thought too monstrous to believe.  I saw the tax-collecting vermin that had grown for centuries like mildew on d’Anconia Copper, draining us by no right that anyone could name—I saw the government regulations passed to cripple me, because I was successful, and to help my competitor because they were loafing failures—I saw the labor unions who won every claim against me, by reason of my ability to make their livelihood possible—I saw that any man’s desire for money he could not earn was regarded as a righteous wish, but if he earned it, it was damned as greed—I saw the politicians who winked at me, telling me not to worry, because I could just work a little harder and outsmart them all.  I looked past the profits of the moment, and I saw that the harder I worked, the more I tightened the noose around my throat.  I saw that my energy was being poured down a sewer that the parasites who fed on me were being fed upon in their turn, that they were caught in their own trap—and that there was no reason for it, no answer known to anyone, that the sewer pipes of the world, draining its productive blood, led into some dank fog nobody had dared to pierce, while people merely shrugged and said that life on earth could be nothing but evil.  And then I saw that the whole industrial establishment of the world, with all of its magnificent machinery, its thousand-ton furnaces, its transatlantic cables, its mahogany offices, its stock exchanges, its blazing electric signs, its power, its wealth—all of it was run, not by bankers and boards of directors, but by any unshaved humanitarian in any basement beer joint, by any face pudgy with malice, who preached that virtue must be penalized for being virtue, that the purpose of ability is to serve incompetence, that man has no right to exist except for the sake of others.”

...“I came here in order to bring up my sons as human beings.  I would not surrender them to the educational systems devised to stunt a child’s brain, to convince him that reason is impotent, that existence is an irrational chaos with which he’s unable to deal, and thus reduce him to a state of chronic terror.  You marvel at the difference between my children and those outside, Miss Taggart?  Yet the cause is so simple.  The cause is that here, in Galt’s Gulch, there’s no person who would not consider it monstrous ever to confront a child with the slightest suggestion of the irrational.”

Sure, one could say that these conceptions of evil, rational thought, and fear that could drive one to kill, are unusual.  Yet while those who don’t fit in with the realities of a society with rampant depression wouldn’t seem evil per se, they would seem very disruptive and parasitical, which may seem less forgivable than is evil.  To see a society with rampant depression as not being irrationally chaotic wouldn’t be rational, but would still have an undying faith in rationality, self-determination, etc.  And this social problem is so gargantuan that awareness of it could indeed seem very fearsome!  Even after we discover how much this sort of logic contributed to the financial meltdown, we’ll probably keep hearing that we still must define personal responsibility along these lines, or else people won’t be motivated enough to do what needs to get done.  Those who think like this would seem good and gutsy, as well as most likely to succeed, as well as conscientious about what’s evil.  After all,

 

(For more on this comic and how it applies to everyone, click here.)

 

is mainstream, too, for the same unconditionally realistic (We can’t afford conditions on realism!) reasons.  One could say that no matter what your serious problem came from, either you take care of yourself or the intellectual elite is somehow feeding off of you, what would be at issue is your need rather than your abilities, your desires could seem to be a form of SELF-WILL that seems righteous only because you’re powerless to effect it, etc.  The only objective question would be, “What will win?”  A utopia of greed would look basically like what Treasury Secretary and mogul Andrew Mellon described just after the Great Crash of 1929, “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate....  It will purge the rottenness out of the system....  People will work harder, live a more moral life.  Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people,” basically the law of the jungle along with the hope that no one would try to get free money through speculation.

 

 

All you’ve got to do is look at mainstream writings on how we handle our rampant depression, and you’d see that this isn’t an idiosyncratic ideology.  It seems that treating the problems inside of each of the thirty-four million, is objective, pragmatic, self-reliant, forgiving, etc., while looking at what social problems cause this, is subjective, unpragmatic, mollycoddle, judgmental, etc. 

After all, moral responsibility includes so many mitigating factors!  In fact, if instead of blaming all of that depression on social problems rather than individuals, one tried to figure out how much of its causes are inside of the victims and how much are outside of them, that would seem too whiny.  One would have to hold that what the masses do is of no consequence, and that everything that we’re going to take seriously, is a matter of the victims’ individual strengths and weaknesses.  This would have to be in absolutist, all-or-nothing terms, since if we take seriously some people’s claims that they’re victims of something unendurable, then any mollycoddles could get what they want by coming up with enough sophistry to “prove” that they’re among the millions who are expected to endure the unendurable.

And while this isn’t enforced by violence, enforcing it by treating those who don’t set out to correct the victims, as subjective, unpragmatic, mollycoddle, judgmental, etc., could be just as effective.  The usual victim correction tends to use enough tact that it seems to be only natural, even though obviously for depression to affect 34,000,000 Americans isn’t just a part of the natural order.

There are also aspects of Atlas Shrugged that don’t involve intentional violence, but recklessness that’s just as injurious, such as that anyone who tries to impose regulations to protect ordinary workers including their safety, is labeled “a louse.”  All this, just to make sure that a few billionaires get what they think they deserve, since if they don’t, they wouldn’t feel motivated to make big-time industry work.  Even a little bit of The Turner Diaries, in the second-most influential book in the USA, should seem to be too much.  If a book that favored the interests of the weak had anything like that in it, then that would seem to prove how dangerous the weak manipulators are.  Yet if a little bit of The Turner Diaries is in Atlas Shrugged, it would seem that honest and mature realists accept that nothing’s perfect, so those who’d care about the few violent elements are either manipulatively dishonest, or immature.  After all, those louses are trying to restrict people, and/or impose on them.

Then again, keep in mind that on April 7th, 1970, Ronald Reagan said regarding his attitude towards student civil rights activists, dissenters, & Vietnam War protestors, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with.”  In 1969, during a protest, he sent 2,200 National Guard troops into Berkeley.  All sorts of rhetoric about massacres could seem fine from red-blooded heroes, as long as one could dismiss that along the lines of, “If you take that literally, then something’s wrong with you!”  (So can we take it figuratively, caring about the spirit rather than the letter of it, without seeming mollycoddle?)

Also typical of this is what the father of Columbine killer Eric Harris, wrote in his own journal before the massacre, about Brooks Brown, a former friend who, along with his parents, tried to turn Eric in for a webpage making violent threats against him: “We feel victimized.  We don’t want to be accused every time something happens.  Eric is not of fault.  Brooks Brown is out to get Eric.  Brooks had problems....  manipulative con artist.”  It’s all so easy for the “redbloods” to consider themselves to be victims of supposedly manipulative “mollycoddles.”  Usually they can, since the defensiveness of “redbloods” would be defending their own rights against supposed pernicious tactics.  If we presumed those accused of manipulative machinations, innocent until proven guilty, then how could we protect ourselves from something that insidious?

Even if you didn’t take either Rand’s violence or the adulation of billionaires literally, though, you’d still have might-makes-right.  If you don’t take any elements of a treatise literally, you’d still have to take it figuratively, since, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next—Amen,” certainly doesn’t intend to limit what’s expected of victims, to what’s reasonable.  Instead of the weak feeling like imbeciles because they must allow the billionaires to shape much of our societies for our own good, the weak would feel like imbeciles because if they don’t blame themselves for their own problems, they’d seem to be finding blame, making excuses, trying to get what they want by manipulating others, relying or subjective morality, etc.  The weak who don’t simply take care of themselves, would seem guilty of mollycoddle machinations.  Randroids would get very sardonic about ideas that disagree with theirs, since those ideas would get their persuasive power from factors that seem subjective, so would seem to get their power from emotional manipulation.  Even if, like Jane with the alcoholic husband, your problems are undoubtedly someone else’s fault, if you courageously changed what you could and serenely accepted what you couldn’t then: you’d benefit, you’d avoid the subjectivities of how morally responsible each person is, you’d look honorably self-reliant rather than playing upon others’ emotions, you wouldn’t seem to be trying to change aggressive übermensch human nature, you’d be forgiving rather than judgmental, etc.

For example, Rand described one of those righteously massacred in the train, as, “The man in Bedroom A, Car No. One, was a professor of sociology who taught that individual ability is of no consequence, that everything is achieved collectively, that it’s the masses that count, not men.”  If you take that figuratively, what you’d end up with is that those who’d study as a social problem, the fact that, “There are over 25 million people in this country who are struggling with depression.  It is estimated that one in five homes in the United States has a depressed person,” wouldn’t be exterminated, but would be snubbed wholesale, since, supposedly, they coddle mollycoddles.  One who truly is objective, certainly couldn’t prove that that much depression is a part of the natural order.  Yet anyone could pin on anyone, labels that imply that anything that he says are basically manipulative machinations.  They wouldn’t have to be massacred in order for their voices to count for nothing, not matter how much truth-strength they actually have.

Any society that would put Ayn Rand on a postage stamp, would have to accept the results of might-makes-right, and treat those who don’t accept them as if they’re manipulators trying to get away with parasitism.  One of Ayn Rand’s characters in The Fountainhead said he is the polar opposite of Robin Hood: “He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor.  I’m the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich, or to be more exact, the man who robs the thieving poor and gives back to the productive rich,” and that’s the sort of attitude that we’d have to have toward the devastated in general.  The supposedly thieving devastated are the mollycoddles, using their weakness to get what they want through manipulation.

One could say that people are to be presumed innocent of manipulative machinations until proven guilty of them, except that since such machinations are insidious and seem to be fighting for the victims, it would be pretty hard to prove that most real machinations do exist.  One could say, “the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which therefore denotes everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case,” and the modern versions of this, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” and, “It’s very easy to believe that someone wronged you so he owes you something,” since objections to what hurts us are motivated by self-interest.  One could also say that we should distinguish those who really are victims from those who really aren’t, except that in the real world sinful people inevitably will exist, so we’ll have to expect plenty of genuine victims to simply take care of their own problems.  One could also say that we could try to differentiate the helplessness that does go too far from the helplessness that doesn’t, but who is to make that decision, and how could he make it mean anything more than his own self-serving opinion?

If one tries to oppose that sort of victim-blaming, this could have the same benefits, and risks, as does opposition to gun control.  It should be obvious that by far most of those who own guns are law abiding citizens.  Their innocence, and great numbers, most of whom only want to protect themselves, gives them great emotional appeal.  Those who oppose gun control certainly also oppose criminals getting guns, unstable people committing crimes of passion with them, etc.  Yet if more guns are in circulation, more criminals will get them.  Likewise, if our culture didn’t have an approach of, “Even in a society with rampant depression, we must all deal with our own problems by courageously changing what we can and serenely accepting what we can’t, even when that means accepting hardship as a pathway to peace and taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” then by far most of those who’d claim that what was done to them was bad or evil, wouldn’t be trying to pull ignominiously cunning, manipulative machinations.  Their innocence, and great numbers, most of whom only want to protect themselves, gives them great emotional appeal.  These people would also tend to oppose such machinations.  Yet the more that our culture did accept such whining, the more that people really would manipulate.  Add to this such facts as that the difference between the ignominious cunning, and the sincere beliefs that what was done to you was bad or evil that still reflect your SELF-WILL, is only relative, and you could see why this untermensch-phobia tends to be absolutist as the victim-self-blaming of the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression.

If you find, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” scary, then you’d seem ignominiously weak, maybe even cunning, since you’d be scared of the details of the much-beloved Serenity Prayer.  The übermenschen, redbloods, are automatically assumed to be on the side of the angels.  Just look at the sort of renegade thinking that Enron was cheered for, before all found out about the frauds.

As everyone knows, some men try to con the women who are supposed to be their girlfriends, and some women try to con the men who are supposed to be their boyfriends.  Our attitude toward the duplicitous men is likely to be along the lines of, “Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” that boys will be boys, and therefore, their girlfriends had better learn survival skills effective enough to protect themselves from such men.  Our attitude toward the duplicitous women is likely to be one of fear, that their insidious cunning hits below the belt, so absolutely must stop.  And since a lot of weak people’s sincere assertiveness could still be labeled “manipulation,” it could also be treated as insidious cunning.  Whenever someone suffers a depression that would have some helplessness as either its underlying or precipitating cause, that wouldn’t be a manipulative ruse.  Yet many would respond to even that as if, as long as he doesn’t choose to just get on with life anyway, then he made a manipulative choice that indicates weak character.

One would then have to ask, which choices that a weak person could make to persuade others, would constitute cunning?  Even some choices that don’t involve persuasion could seem cunning, since as long as someone seems response-able for taking care of his own problem, if he doesn’t he’d seem to be shirking his responsibility.  And according to Schopenhauer, hurt feelings are as willful as are hurtful feelings.  He wrote about the pragmatically sublime character, “Such a character will accordingly consider men in a purely objective way, and not according to the relations they might have to his will.  For example, he will observe their faults, and even their hatred and injustice to himself, without thereby being stirred to hatred on his own part....  For in the course of his own life and in its misfortunes, he will look less at his own individual lot than at the lot of mankind as a whole, and accordingly will conduct himself in this respect rather as a knower than as a sufferer.”  In other words, they won’t expect this sinful world to be as their WILLS would have it.  Though George Washington said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force,” showing that he admired eloquence, Wagnerian psychology would have to hate weak people’s eloquence.  It would require planning in order to make one’s own pleas more emotionally moving, so would be deemed willful cunning.

Since Schopenhauer also wrote, “Nature has produced [the intellect] for the service of an individual will; therefore it is destined to know things only in so far as they serve as the motives of such a will, not to fathom them or comprehend their true inner essence,” this would mean that even one’s honest opinion that he’s a victim could seem manipulative, a reflection of what it suits him to believe.  If he’d solve his own problem self-reliantly, he’d be showing physical strength, which in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race.  If he assertively stood up for his own rights, that would be his intellect, which would be serving his individual will.  Of course, anti-intellectualism is a lot more susceptible to emotional reasoning, including willfulness, since anti-intellectualism doesn’t have to be reality-tested, but it’s more likely to reflect the accepted willfulness of the strong.  As Eric Hoffer wrote in The Passionate State of Mind, “The beginning of thought is in disagreement—not only with others but also with ourselves,” but the only disagreement that anti-intellectualism would have with one’s own aggrieved will, would be desires to be too pragmatic red-blooded and/or forgiving to get upset.

Sure, some of the specifics of Schopenhauer’s reasoning could sound like something out of the Nazi’s pro-aggression propaganda, such as, “This universal conflict is to be seen most clearly in the animal kingdom....  But the most glaring example of this kind is afforded by the bulldog ant of Australia, for when it is cut in two, a battle begins between the head and the tail.  The head attacks the tail with its teeth, and the tail defends itself bravely by stinging the head.”  The American redblood-mollycoddle dichotomy would associate violence with weakness such as poverty, and boast about being tough on crime.  At the same time, this associating strength with respectability in all circumstances, and weakness with cunning willfulness, is the redblood-mollycoddle dichotomy.

One could conceivably call this “Redblood-Coddling,” “The ‘Manipulation’ Manipulation,” and/or “The ‘That’s Just a Ploy!’ Ploy.”  If you apply the redblood-mollycoddle dichotomy to interpersonal conflicts, what redblood would have to mean is, “How dare you try to restrict his rights!,” and what mollycoddle would have to mean is, “How dare you try to manipulate anyone!”. In our personal lives, this could look like the disputes that Steven Carter described in Men Who Can’t Love, where “commitment-phobic” men react to their own inner feelings of being “trapped” in their romantic relationships, by acting as if the women are guilty of trying to restrict their freedoms, and as if the women are trying to “trap” them even though they didn’t pull any manipulative subterfuges.  The book portrays this as the men’s bizarre an unwarranted abuse, though the zeitgeist of modern psychology would probably suggest that as long as anyone has strong desires to leave his/her romantic relationship or marriage, then seriously insisting that he/she stay, would indeed be both repressive and manipulative.  Even assertiveness from his/her partner could be deemed “manipulative,” guilt-tripping based on “But you owe me!”  These men, who claim to be trapped by the women even if they did nothing to ensnare them, could act as if they’re just trying to protect the productive übermenschen, such as themselves, from the supposedly thieving untermenschen, such as the women involved.  This sort of character defect involves mollycoddle ignominious cunning, which might be harder to defend oneself against than would be open and honest aggression, and is insidious rather than explicitly WILLFUL, so an untermensch-phobia could become popular.

As Noam Chomsky said, “I am convinced, personally, that Bush was trained to mispronounce words to say things like ‘mis-underestimate’ or ‘nu-cu-ler,’ so liberal intellectuals would make jokes about it; then the Republican propaganda machine could say see these elitist liberals who run the world are making fun of us ordinary guys who did not go to Harvard (but he did go to Yale, but forget it).”  One could also see how much the poor and minorities are blamed for the Great Crash of 2008.  As long as the greedy used those who don’t have enough money in order to get rich through unsound mortgages, the problem could be blamed on those who don’t have enough money, and acting like their victim seems good ’n’ gutsy.  Sure, as Bush said in his speech on October 10, 2008, “The fundamental problem is this: As the housing market has declined, banks holding assets related to home mortgages have suffered serious losses,” but this doesn’t inspire the sort of righteous indignation that, “The fundamental problem is this: As mortgage-holders defaulted on mortgages they couldn’t afford, banks holding assets related to home mortgages have suffered serious losses,” would have inspired.

Schopenhauer’s use of the word ignominious, really does tell a lot about this sort of mentality, both in Wagnerian Germany, and in modern America.  When redbloods are coddled, it’s legitimized in terms of how weak and/or helpless they are, but this weakness and helplessness doesn’t seem ignominious.  If someone tries to evade moral responsibility for a problem he caused because human nature made him do it, “Boys will be boys,” he’s completely helpless to turn back the clock and undo what he did, it would be unrealistic to expect someone to do and sacrifice that much in order to take moral responsibility, etc., that wouldn’t seem ignominious.  If the person who has the problem gives legitimate reasons why expecting him to take response-ability for it would be at least unreasonable, that would seem ignominious.  That would be given such labels as: “finding blame,” “making excuses,” “acting passive,” “wimping out,” “manipulation through guilt-tripping,” “the sort of character flaws that AA’s Big Book and ads for antidepressants talk about,” “unrealistic,” “immature,” etc.  (Of course, “Boys will be boys” behavior is immature, too, but realists would say that if you don’t just accept that, then you’re the one who’s ignominious.)

Niebuhr’s The Nature and Destiny of Man, copyright 1941, includes both “In Nietzsche’s transvaluation of values, the characteristics of human life which make for conflict between life and life are raised to the eminence of the ideal,” along with, “There is a peculiar irony in the fact that [Nietzsche’s] doctrine, which was meant as an exposure of the vindictive transvaluation of values engaged in by the inferior classes, should have itself become a vehicle of the pitiful resentments of the lower middle classes of Europe in their fury against more powerful aristocratic and proletarian classes.”  The best way to enforce a transvaluation of values like Nietzsche’s is to accuse opponents of it, of a transvaluation of values.  After all, those who hold others morally accountable for what they did to them, could be accused of wanting to believe that they’re owed something.  Those who, instead, get what they want by winning it, could be called honorable, in that this couldn’t possibly involve anything that could be called a surreptitious WILLFULNESS.  A conception of personal responsibility that stresses moral responsibility could easily seem authoritarian and subjective, with these opinions reflecting the complainers’ SELF-WILLS, while a conception of personal responsibility that stresses response-ability for one’s own welfare, one’s own problems, would have nothing to do with authority, and would be in the objective terms of what one’s own material welfare would be.

One example of how acceptable redblood-coddling could look, is Dubya’s statement in the Joint Press Availability in The National Palace of Guatemala City, Guatemala, with Guatemala’s President Berger, on March 12, 2007:

The United States and Guatemala trade a lot, especially now that Guatemala has become a full member of CAFTA-DR.  President Berger and I believe that CAFTA can spread opportunity, provide jobs, and help lift people out of poverty.  We saw how trade can transform the small village of Chirijuy—part of our experience in traveling with the President was to get outside the capital.  It was really, really fun—and really heartwarming.  As a matter of fact, it was one of the great experiences of my presidency.  The town has grown from subsistence farming to selling high-value crops, like lettuce and carrots and celery.  As a matter of fact, I got to pack some lettuce.  The President and I were hauling boxes of lettuce, we were putting them in the truck.

To call both a Third-World town moving up to selling lettuce and carrots and celery, “heartwarming,” and to call seeing this, along with hauling boxes of lettuce, “one of the great experiences of my presidency,” was certainly a manipulative ploy to get Third-World workers and their supporters, to feel lucky if they could pack and haul lettuce.  Yet this is a manipulation of untermenschen by übermenschen, and that sort of manipulation doesn’t seem ignominious, at least not to most people.  Of course, those who now have the pitiful resentments of the lower middle classes in their fury against more powerful aristocratic and proletarian classes, would see that this is an elitist manipulating working-class people with a goal of taking advantage of American middle-class workers.  Yet that still wouldn’t seem as dangerous as untermensch manipulation.

When Ken Lay acted angry as he testified at his own trial, many thought that this would naturally turn the jury against him.  Yet in the glory days of Enron, if he angrily and defiantly acted like a victim of guv’mint machinations, many would have cheered.

In Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, he wrote, “No one is such a liar as the indignant man.”  He probably didn’t contrive his indignancy so that he could play the victim role, yet in each case including his, bad and evil seem to mean everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the WILL, so his WILL naturally distorts what he honestly believes.  In Eternal Recurrence, Nietzsche wrote, “Nothing on earth consumes a man more quickly than the passion of resentment.”  In Ecce Homo, “Pathetic attitudes are not in keeping with greatness.”  This treatment of the untermensch emotions, is the same idea as you could see in self-help inspired by The Serenity Prayer.  Yet as Nietzsche also wrote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”  Since the sort of monster that such sardonic people are most afraid of is the weak person who seems manipulative, cowardly, self-righteous, self-indulgently self-defeating, etc., they’d better watch out that they don’t become manipulative, self-righteous, etc., by acting like victims of supposed manipulators and the greatest liars.

Start out with AA’s slogan, “We are all victims of victims.”  Those who are being held morally responsible can act as if they’re the real victims, of those who claim to be the victims.  The redbloods can act defensive, since they’d be defending their own rights.  They’d manipulatively whine that they’re victims of the mollycoddles’ supposed manipulative machinations.  The redbloods would end up getting quite coddled, since expecting them to take responsibility would constitute moral responsibility, attempts to control and restrict them, to guilt-trip them, etc.  They’re the ones who the grasping, manipulative hands are supposedly trying to manipulate, or using as their opportunity to manipulate others.  When Ann Coulter said in front of the traditionally black Philander Smith College, “We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ creme brulee.  That’s just a joke, for you in the media,” she both made the sort of Savage-Nation-style statement that excites her audience, and acted like a victim of the media.  If one were just as vigilant toward the harm that “redbloods” could do, vs. the harm that “mollycoddles” could do, that wouldn’t make for very exciting radio, our norms would condemn taking that “repression” too seriously, and we’d be expecting moral responsibility, which is a lot less reliable than is expecting people to take response-ability for their own welfare.

 

 

In our careers, what that would look like is sardonic Libertarianism, where businesses doing as they pleased would be equated with their being productive, and expectations of moral responsibility would seem to be victimology, victimhood, facetious claims to be fighting for what’s good, etc.  Healthy Libertarianism is supposed to mean that we’d try to prevent at least some of our excessive depression through our mores, charity, etc. rather than through guv’mint, but this would require that these mores be unbiased regarding how seriously they’d take the harm that “redbloods” could do, as versus the harm that “mollycoddles” could do.  Both the “Thou shalt not repress,” and “Be independent!” ideas of psychology, and sardonic Libertarianism, allow the “redbloods” to play the victim role, acting like victims of: repression, heavy-handed moralism, manipulation, victimology, the victims’ opinions, idealistic expectations, judgmentalism, etc.

Barry Minkow, head of the ZZZZ Best Carpet Cleaning company, who admittedly pulled a Ponzi scheme that he thought would turn out well, wrote the chapter “The Psychology of Fraud,” in Stephen G. Austin’s book Rise of the New Ethics Class.  Minkow wrote, “The word character once meant ‘someone with moral or ethical standards.’...  However, a starling new philosophy has emerged from the business (and academic) sector....  This new ethic is called ‘right equals forward motion.’  Best summarized in one word, right equals forward motion is about achievement.”  This “right equals forward motion” is also the sort of discipline that market discipline gives.  It has its rationale, such as that any claims about what’s morally right or wrong are subjective at best, manipulative at worst. but achievement is objective.  Not only that, coping with one’s own problems means minimizing his own awareness of how immorally others behaved, and most corruption in business isn’t unambiguously malicious.  As Minkow wrote, “In almost every Ponzi scheme, there is a ‘cure,’ or profitable deal, which will materialize and provide enough cash to pay off the investors.  The investors are not thought of as victims.”  Those who have positive and resilient attitudes, would choose to see that as just mistakes.

Therefore, it’s all the easier to treat those who don’t adjust like this, as if they’re louses with bad characters. Those who have the outlook of Atlas Shrugged minus the billionaires and violence, would insist, probably in a sardonic confident voice (and everyone knows that confidence is good, healthy!), that those who don’t abide by this are cunningly and manipulatively playing the victim role because this is what the striving of their own wills made them believe.  AA’s Big Book, in its explanation of AA’s fourth, fifth, and sixth steps, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs,” and “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character,” goes into some detail discussing the defects that are to be inventoried, as resentment anger and fear.  Elsewhere, in a sentence here and there, the Big Book tells members to take account of their übermensch character defects, the aggressive kind that alkies and druggies are most known for.

The only defects that the Big Book goes into in depth, are the same as those that antidepressant ads refer to as character flaws.  The only question is whether our depressions resulted from 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, or 34,000,000 people’s rather severe feelings of resentment, anger, fear, and the like, which constitute “character flaws.”

Such ads certainly aren’t saying, “Depression isn’t a sign that you have bad moral or ethical standards.”  No doubt many of these depressions did result from the übermensch character flaws of those who caused depressions in others, but we tend to ignore those, and see “character flaws” as only the untermensch ones.  Just imagine the response you’d get if you said, “Sorry, but I define ‘character flaws’ differently than the antidepressant ads, AA’s Big Book, etc., do.  My definition of them, is a secular version of Minkow ’s current definition.”  Yet if an AA member did define “character” as ethical character, he may have had less of a chance of becoming an alkie in the first place, and that includes those who first formulated the AA program!  What market discipline disciplines, is a falling short of having a STRONG character, rather than a falling short of having a strong character in the old-fashioned sense.

Though the webpage Psychology of Victimhood: Reflections on a Culture of Victims & How Psychotherapy Fuels the Victim Industry, says in its first paragraph, “While some victims are truly innocent (i.e., the child who is being molested, a victim in the other car in a drunk driving accident), most violence involves some knowledge, familiarity or intimacy between victims and victimizers,” the victims of any terrorism didn’t choose to associate with anyone who turned out to be dangerous.  Yet it could still seem reasonable to treat these victims of terrorism, as if calling them “victims” would be creating more victims through the power of diagnostic names and self-fulfilling prophecies, and that a victim is an image of innocence and someone who cannot represent himself.

If he looks at the situation in terms of the rules and principles of moral accountability, he could seem manipulative.  The subtitle of the book The Manipulative Child, by Drs. E. W. Swihart, E. W. Swihart Jr., and Patrick Cotter, is, “How to Regain Control and Raise Resilient, Resourceful, and Independent Kids,” so all that kids would have to do is not handle their own problems as redbloods would, and they’d be treated like manipulative mollycoddles.  Adults who’d care about any moral principles that had been violated, would seem to construe them to serve themselves, rather than the underlying practicalities.  Since these people don’t act mercenary, you’d think that talking about them as manipulators would ring hollow, but what constitutes “manipulation,” is in the eye of the beholder.  If we have a zeitgeist similar to the Wagnerian, we’d see plenty of sincere assertiveness as manipulation, since naturally the assertive people want to believe that they’re entitled to a lot.

Ironically, what’s bothering most of the American public about the war in Iraq, is that it fits exactly the pattern that Reaganomics attributed to victimhood and victimology.  Dubya and the Bushmen made vacuous but confident statements that the population of the world were VICTIMS of the danger that Saddam could use WMD against them.

 

           

 

When that turned out to be unfounded, the argument then turned into claims that fighting in Iraq simply is good, and opposing this simply is bad.  No one wants to be labeled as “bad.”  This includes plenty of other claims that are based on faith, such as, “Even if this does inspire more terrorism, then that’s only because of course terrorists don’t like people to oppose them,” with the implication that only bad people would naïvely accept that if something instigates more terrorism then it must be bad.  And of course, the guv’mint is behind all this, particularly the neo-Conservatives, who admit to operating in a vanguardist fashion.  (“The ends justify the means.”)  Like many other guv’mint programs, the more that it fails, the more that we’d need to continue it.  It seems impossible to stand against this onslaught of victimology and victimhood, and still look like a moral person.  Maybe one reason why mainstream America tends to feel uncomfortable with the Iraq war, is that mainstream America is far more likely to reject purportedly unquestionable whining, than they are to reject, “Depressive disorders affect about 34 million American adults, so these 34,000,000 American adults should take antidepressants or learn to have optimistic outlooks.”  At least it’s possible to get most of those depressions under control, but when someone puts on the mantle of, “I’m good and you’re bad,”

           

which seems to be more important than anything else, how could anyone get that under control?  Sure, many would say that the helplessness that leads to our rampant depression with self-responsible self-blame, is the price that we must pay for our freedoms to do certain things that leave others helpless, but this doesn’t seem to be, “The ends justify the means,” since neither the means nor the ends were dictated by a centralized governmental authority.

Of course, one thing that Reaganomics would very much stress, was how dangerous were the original Marxist beliefs that as long as The Vanguard remakes a society’s economy, the realities that the people would have to adjust to would change, and, therefore, the society would become more endurable.  As Erich Fromm wrote in The Sane Society, both Marxism and psychoanalysis were shaped by a largely nineteenth-century intellectual trend, Promethianism, which, to an extraordinary degree, sought to find one supposed cause for people’s problems as if all we had to do was unchain people, like Prometheus, from what was to blame:

The third error was Marx’s concept that the socialization of the means of production was not only the necessary, but also the sufficient condition for the transformation of the capitalist into a socialist co-operative society.  At the bottom of this error is again his oversimplified, overoptimistic, rationalistic picture of man.  Just as Freud believed that freeing man from unnatural and overstrict sexual tabus would lead to mental health, Marx believed that the emancipation from exploitation would automatically produce free and cooperative beings.  He was as optimistic about the immediate effect of changes in environmental factors as the encyclopedists of the eighteenth century had been, and had little appreciation for the power of irrational and destructive passions which were not transformed from one day to another by economic changes.  Freud, after the experience of the First World War, came to see this strength of destructiveness, and changed his whole system drastically by accepting the drive for destruction as being equally strong and as ineradicable as Eros.  Marx never came to such an awareness, and never changed his simple formula of socialization of the means of production as a straight way to the socialist aim.

In Iraq, too, we see the results of a faith that as long as we get rid of The Problem, we’ve achieved what we wanted.  But, of course, as those who fear the insidious untermensch will-to-power would be the first to tell you, if all you do is find who’s to blame, that could still have a compelling anti-badness emotional pull to it.

The Serenity Prayer follows the lines of much of Schopenhauer, so such stereotypically German hatred of weakness is relevant to all who believe in this sort of psychology.  The cowboy elements of the American culture, also, say that if a John Wayne plays the victim role when defensively defending his own rights, that wouldn’t be condemned as willfulness.  It seems all-American to defend one’s own rights as if those who are trying to restrict them are engaging in Wagnerian willfulness, as in the AA slogans, “We are all victims of victims,” “Anger is one letter short of danger,” “Forgiveness is relinquishing the role of being the victim,” and, “Self-righteous anger is character assassination.”  Likewise, one big reason why the pedo-priest crisis got so out-of-hand is that until recently, supporters of the Catholic hierarchy would often respond to those who’d object to the cover-ups, as if they were victimizing the hierarchy.  And one reason why the tobacco industry has been able to wreak the sickness and death that they have, is that until recently, they’ve consistently responded to anti-smoking activists, by acting like their victims.  One would think that for the John Waynes, the Catholic Church, or the tobacco industry, to play the victim role, reflects a lot more Wagnerian willfulness than do desires to go through life unaccosted or have things made right after being accosted.  Yet defending one’s own, or one’s organization’s, power seems respectable, while verbally defending oneself from injustice (physically defending oneself is fine, if he has the power to do so), looks like chutzpah.  This ends up straining resentment and the like, and swallowing sinfulness, since sinfulness has that gutsy character which in all circumstances powerfully impresses the human race so we’d at least be conservative about inhibiting it, but any passivity betrays weakness, and at the same time degrades the pathetic quitter as a physical and moral being, whose objections reflect his WILL.

You might think this since there are over 25 million people in this country who are struggling with depression, this constitutes a social problem that we’d better take seriously.  At the very least, people should have the right no to accept all of the norms regarding who is personally responsible for what.  Yet just imagine all of the opportunities that genuine manipulators would have, if they could respond to all-American expectations that they take personal responsibility for their own problems, by saying, “There are over 25 million people in this country who are struggling with depression, so don’t expect me to just accept the norms that you’re now expecting me to abide by!”

Just as Justice Potter Stewart said that he can’t define what’s pornography but he knows it when he sees it, someone with a balanced outlook could say that while he can’t define what’s moral bankruptcy, he knows it when he sees it.  Moral bankruptcy could be hard to define, since sometimes simply forgiving and dealing with the problem, really is the best thing to do.  The Words Universe webpage on the word “bankruptcy” defines it as in “moral bankruptcy,” as, “a state of complete lack of some abstract property; ‘spiritual bankruptcy’; ‘moral bankruptcy’; ‘intellectual bankruptcy’,” but if what happened was mild enough that you’d naturally just shrug it off, then a complete lack of moral accountability would be appropriate.  Knowing moral bankruptcy when you see it, also has the values that anti-intellectualism claims for itself, that common sense could be a more reliable guide than is any theory.

Yet you wouldn’t want a religious fanatic to decide what’s pornography by what he sees to be pornography, since he’ll see it in plenty that really isn’t.  Likewise, you wouldn’t want a manipulator to decide what’s moral bankruptcy by what he sees to be moral bankruptcy, since he’ll see it in plenty that really isn’t.  The question would then have to be, “Who are, and aren’t, manipulators?”  Chances are that anyone who takes seriously the moral bankruptcy of any situation with any ambiguities,  will end up being labeled as a manipulator.  After all, he’d be on the mollycoddle side of the redblood-mollycoddle dichotomy.  Ambiguities would mean that it would seem tenable to treat his objections as if they simply reflect how he’d want the world to be.  They’d seem to be his judgmental opinion, etc.  It couldn’t possibly seem unpragmatic or unrealistic for someone to refuse to shrug off some porno (other than a woman refusing to shrug off her husband’s porn), but it could very easily seem unpragmatic and unrealistic for someone to refuse to shrug off a destructive reality.  If only he believed that this problem should be solved by concrete self-reliant action rather than by emotional abstractions such as moral responsibility, then we could feel safe that he’s not pulling any machinations.

The section of The World as Will and Representation that talks about judgmental opinions that something’s morally wrong, as coming from the WILL, begins, “The last part of our discussion proclaims itself as the most serious, for it concerns the actions of men, the subject of direct interest to everyone, and one which can be foreign or indifferent to none.”

As Whittaker Chambers wrote in the National Review, of Ayn Rand’s ideology, “Just as her operatic businessmen are, in fact, Nietzschean supermen, so her ulcerous leftists are Nietzsche’s ‘last men’, both deformed in a way to sicken the fastidious recluse of Sils Marnia…  [In her vision] resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible.  Dissent from revelation so final can only be willfully wicked.  There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, reason itself enjoins them.”  If bad and evil seem to reflect the WILLS of those who hold others morally accountable, then dissent from might-makes-right would have to be cunningly mollycoddle, which is more wicked than honest overpowering.  Finding blame, saying, “But you owe me!” whining, pessimism, resentment anger and fear (which Narcotics Anonymous calls “The Triangle of Self-Obsession,” even when they’re completely warranted), etc., wouldn’t be accepted as being merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible.  Since Chambers was a conservative, one could only wonder to what degree his conceptions of personal responsibility, would require “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” along with courageously changing whatever one can of the hardship and/or sinfulness that impacts his life, if that’s what it meant to take care of himself.  One could suggest that those with problems look at them with the single-minded self-responsibility that is evident in the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, either because he believes in the absolutist expectations of Rand, or because they can’t afford to care about anything besides how they could correct any internal shortcomings that are keeping them from solving their own problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More of this on Victim Correction Webpage 17

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