Sunday, September 15, 2013

Big boys, big toys

After many years of diving deep into social theory and psychoanalysis, I feel that I have re-emerged at the other side of simplicity. So many things in life are simple. Never simple the way they explain to you though. Let's illustrate this with a couple of real-life examples.
Two recent events made a click somewhere in my brain. First, Tokyo winning a bid to stage Olympic games 100 miles from a leaking nuclear reactor on the seashore in a seismic zone. Second, the USA's manic sword-flailing in Syria. In both cases, the course of action pushed on by presumably responsible and educated grown-up men is not dangerous and destructive, but also counter-intuitive, counter-logical and irrational. In fact, the word that lends itself the best here is satanic. Knowingly putting lives and livelihoods of millions of people in harm's way sure can't come across as anything but that.

I am not using "satanic" for the sake of a mere hyperbole though. Psychoanalytically, "satanic" implies coming from the Shadow aspect, which all humans have. In fact, it's part and parcel of who we are, albeit mostly unbeknownst to most of us. To what extent we are aware of it and to what extent we are able not to act on it, is in many ways dependent on the pressure society and culture put on us (Freud 1923). Empathy is one of those socially constructed personality traits. Children need to be taught empathy in a certain time window, lest they grow up to be inconsiderate and cruel. 

However, it is hardly ever perfect, the extent of the empathic function of the mind varies from individual to individual and is prone to  variation. Given a chance to be inconsiderate or cruel, most earthlings would act on their Shadow impulses. (When given free reign, earthlings go out of hand). Once empathy-free or empathy-light children grow up to occupy positions in power, especially unaccountable power, such as the top echelons of government, army or business, they  will  do exactly that: only this  time they won't tear fly's wings or torture a kitten, but choose a phallic display of power or a huge vanity project at the expense of  everyone else's good.

Although, for understandable reasons, we see mostly men doing that, the glass-ceiling-smashing career effort turns women into exactly that too, so these days we never run out of examples like Hilary Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Condoleeza Rice, or Dilma Roussef presiding matter-of-fact-like over mayhem and havoc.

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