Cognitive Psychology

Mass Psychosis is the End Game of Groupthink, Gaslighting, and Cognitive Dissonance


One of the most satisfying things that has happened since the inception of Ye Olde Blogge, other than thinking of the term, Ye Olde Blogge, because, amirite? Ye Olde Blogge. That’s pure genius. Okay, it has been very satisfying to see other people better versed in psychology than me coming to the same or similar conclusions as I am. Seriously, for a couple of years there, I was going crazy because I could find no references to groupthink, social identity, or cognitive dissonance in any of the analyses of the Trump years, but now, they are popping up on occasion by those names or similar concepts.

Here’s one that I’m particularly pleased with because I put a lot of time, effort, and blogging into it. These folks are calling it mass psychosis, but we’ve talked about how people maintain obviously false beliefs through cognitive dissonance and social support for them. These folks are saying about the same thing, but, but they are using some legacy psychology to do it with.

Watch the video — I wish I had the time and technical skills to produce video like this — take notes because you’re a nerd like me, and we’ll discuss it for a bit and have fun in the comments! It’s by Academy of Ideas and After Skool.

It kicks off pretty old school with a cool quote from the famous French 19th century polymath, Gustave Le Bon, who is best known for his trieste on the psychology of crowds or mobs — it was written in French, so who knows, because they just make it up as they go along, amirite? — who noted that people want to believe what they want to believe and not necessarily what is factual and, therefore, easily fooled. Man, sounds like what I’ve been writing about for the past year or so.

They go on to quote Carl Jung — #FullDisclosure: personal favorite; although, no longer very influential — who noted that the biggest threat to humankind is our own psyche. Like I’ve been saying the things that evolved to help us dominate the planet are now killing us. All those cognitive tendencies can quickly turn into Tom fuckery and fuck us up and they have.

Jung also talks about a society in which madness becomes the norm, which he called psychic epidemics, or mass psychosis. Mass psychosis is the social phenomenon in which an entire population begins to believe in delusional ideas that are no longer based in reality. There are those who believe that mass psychosis is a form of groupthink. See? Amirite or amirite? I’m right, right?

Jung lists the behaviors of people who suffer from mass psychosis as being less intellectual and more emotional, irrational, erratic, irresponsible, and unreliable. Who the hell does that sound like? Groupthink, especially as he notes, decisions become more destructive and immoral. It also sounds like freaking MAGA Nation. Seriously taking horse dewormer instead of the #COVID19 vaccine? This is mass psychosis.

Next, they discuss the causes of mass psychosis and note that it stems from psychogenic elements, especially constant exposure to fear and anxiety — Who’s strategy is this sounding like? If you said the fear mongering of the GQP, then you’d be right — which causes people to find a way of calming themselves like telling those folks flogging horse dewormer and outlawing mask mandates to fuck right off, but the MAGAs have decided to “blend truth and fiction” to create a delusional world.

Look over Silvano Arieti’s steps to psychotic break and tell me it doesn’t read like what we’re witnessing MAGA Nation going through right now:

  • The Phase of Panic. The individual begins to perceive the world is not as they think it should be, so they react with increasing panic because they cannot explain why the world just ain’t working right no more. You know, like a black man being elected president, the USA becoming a minority-majority country, and Black folks having their votes cast as easily as whites and counted, too!
  • The Phase of Psychotic Insight. The individual engages in some next level cognitive dissonance to make the world make sense again. Somehow, they have to interpret what they are seeing so that it jibes with what they’re thinking. If you’re not willing to alter your thinking, you’ve got to alter your interpretation. Your anxiety is gone, but so is your grip on reality.
  • The Phase of Multiplying Symptoms. This phase is not mentioned in the film because it is less pertinent to mass psychosis. It describes the way that the problems schizophrenics experience tend to snowball. I guess, something like that is happening now in the US, we’re just growing more and more dysfunctional and unable to cope with reality, witness overwhelmed hospital systems with not only unvaccinated #COVID19 patients, their regular patients, but the deluded souls who’ve actually taken horse dewormer.

The end result of the mass psychosis that we are seeing among MAGA Nation is totalitarianism. A totalitarian society divides into a god-like ruling class and regressed child-like helpless dependent masses. Both are deluded into believing that the arrangement can work and lead to anything other than mass suffering.

Mass psychosis begins with the ruling class who deludes themselves that they alone an fix it that they alone can and should rule society completely. That sounds a lot like Gingrich’s permanent majority and Cruz’s and McConnell’s just never compromise approach to governance. It sounds a lot like the Koch Bros and ALEC who are trying to write all of the state laws that the GQP legislatures are passing.

This ruling class usually runs some kind a game plan based on Hitler’s playbook. They literally destroy the minds of their followers by using the firehose of lies approach and hyping threats to the society. In other words, lying so much and so often that no one knows what is real any more. The term the film uses, which I’m unfamiliar with is, menticide, the killing of the mind by systematically undermining the values and norms of a society and replacing them with radically different ones. Sounds like gaslighting to me. And, now we’re convincing MAGA Nation that democracy is not really something we want or need.

The use of fear is key here. We know that fearful people will vote more conservatively and are more vulnerable to the authoritarian appeal. For the authoritarian move to succeed the populace must be convinced that they are being attacked and are under grave threat, whether they really are or not. Diseased immigrant caravans allowing ISIS to infiltrate the country and cut all our heads off, replacement theory, rioting felonious Black people running wild in our streets, even #COVID19. These are all things that they’ve used to convince rural conservative Christian white Americans that the sky is falling and they need to vote conservative whether they like it or not… and they do.

Madness is living so disconnected to reality that you do the same things over and over again expecting different results… except where computers are concerned. You can do the same things over and over again, and one time, it does do something different. Mass psychosis is a population living a deluded existence untethered from reality.

To counter the forces of the menicidal authoritarians then means to bring reality back into the picture.

  1. Develop your own mind. Order your thoughts by engaging with the world. Exercise logic and critical thinking and develop healthy habits of mind and body.
  2. Spread the truth that counters the propaganda. We have two interesting situations in the #COVID19 pandemic and the withdrawal from Afghanistan. There is massive disinformation out there about both, but there are people who are trying to get the truth to people. With #COVID19, we can see the truth if we are not deluded. The unvaccinated are the ones getting sick and dying. Everyday we see new information about Afghanistan and how the withdrawal and saving the interpreters were sabotaged by Trump and Miller. Both are complex truths difficult to communicate, but both can pierce the bubble of disinformation propagated by the GQP.
  3. Humor, Satire, and Ridicule. Demagogues don’t have a sense of humor. It’s a rule or something. Did the Ol’ Pussy Grabber have a sense of humor? Could he make fun of himself? It’s why SNL’s Trump skits got to him so badly. So, keep pumping out the memes that take the ridiculous crap that Tuckems, Ingraham, and Hanity put out to task. Keep mercilessly ridiculing Maddog Greene and Loaded Boebert and Looney Gohmert and all the other useful idiots that they trot out to peddle their dogma and propaganda.
  4. Create Parallel Structures. Organizations, businesses, and activities that exist outside of the structure created by the authoritarian government. Luckily, we are not quite there, yet. But one to keep in mind because we ain’t out of the woods yet, baby!
  5. Resist. People opposed to the authoritarian movement must also be organized and resist their grab for power. The sooner in the process we get started, the greater the chances of success.

That’s most of the film. It parallels many of the things that we’ve posted over the years here at Ye Olde Blogge proving once again that people with the same goals using similar resources will come up with similar results without collusion or conspiracy being present. Unfortunately, all roads lead to the same conclusion. The GQP is making an authoritarian power grab and it is up to us to defy them.

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Image Attribution

“Big Brother is watching you” by duncan is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

48 replies »

  1. This was an interesting read & said a lot of what I’ve been trying to say to anyone who’ll listen for a while now. Having a friend who’s been sucked into the whole Q thing, it feels like a never ending battle to shine truth on all of the lies but sadly it’s doing nothing to make her wake up & see what’s being done to her & what she’s doing to herself. She’s had Covid 2X, she even gave her dad the horse paste & he lived fortunately but to her it proved that they’re right and blah blah blah…I could go on but it stresses me out too much 😒

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Nan!

      The only thing you can do is keeping talking facts and sense. The important thing with someone in that mindset is to not let go of them as tempting as it is. They need some contact with reality. Some part of them know that they’re in lalaland. They are reacting out of a place of confusion and distress. Thinking of it that way can help maintain some empathy for all their ridiculous BS.

      I’ve got a post later this week comparing our pandemic hysteria to that of the Witch Hysterias in Medieval Europe. Maybe I’ll do a post on how to help people escape from the mass delusion that seems to have engulfed a quarter of the country.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  2. I saw that a couple weeks ago and liked it so much I posted it and a link to my blogroll. I’ve been yelling at clouds about it for so long I can’t quite place when I stopped. It’s fun to cook up little ditties about the Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch-shots on teevee Kool-Aid, and it’s even more fun when people actually get it, but as Cassandra’s Grandson, I’ve grown inured I suppose, at the point where I’ve found it better to keep quiet and let people think whatever they want to think.

    It all started with a hit of LSD more than fifty years ago, and my father not necessarily catching me high on LSD but “hey, watch some teevee with us,” and that is when I noted just how hypnotic it is. Been my observation down through the years (not owning one) that it sucks you right in ~ if there’s a teevee on in the house you’re gonna’ end up looking at it. I have been known to shoot televisions.

    All I know of psychology is Pavlov’s dogs, but in time, as I achieved teaching level mastery in Information Science I read a great deal about the NAZI “new technology” methodology in delivering not necessarily information. It’s plausible that those colored dots in the films down at the company movie-house were to signal the projectionist it’s time to que up the next reel, really, it’s plausible. Alarming to say the least, but also the sort of thing frowned upon in serious academic circles, somethin’ somethin’ conspiracy somethin’*. And it has been with even greater alarm I’ve watched in the ensuing years the exposure of near-infant children to ever increasingly suggestive content delivered on ever increasingly larger viewing devices. Not unlike my favored response to bozos goin’ on about 666 chips, why would we need to chip us when we’ve one (comm device) in our pocket?” … Big Brother doesn’t need to watch us when we’re glued to the tube.

    Which opens the door to is it ~ Big Brother, or a brave new world?

    When I was teaching people to use computers back in the ought’s’ ~ when it important, apparently today it is not ~ it may have been a mistake to not necessarily predict but convey the conviction the Internet would be the entertainment medium of the 21st century.

    *Funny though that my thesis relating dBase technology with Druidic tattooing and cascading memories was taken seriously 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ten!

      My mother had a television in every room of the house and every television was on 24 hours a day. Drove me nuts when I’d visit her. She liked the sound. She was married, too. I don’t know how her husband coped.

      I’m old enough to remember the TV is a drug and the new opiate of the masses claims. They said the same things about radio, newspapers, and books when they were first developed. TV and the Internet, though, seem different in the ways that they capture our attention. If there is a TV on in the room, it will grab your attention and it takes effort and will to resist. I teach middle and high school, there are some students who cannot resist the allure of the Internet and skive off to do whatever they’re doing on it during class both in-person and by distance.

      When I lived in Korea, the story of soju, the Korean cheap rotgut rice based alcohol was developed by the government specifically for the laborers who were building the industrial infrastructure. It was intended to get them drunk quickly and allow them enough time to sober up enough to come back to work the next day.

      Unfortunately, as a species, we have a tendency to fill-in the knowledge gaps with something plausible even if it isn’t true. It may have helped us cope as hunter-gatherers, but it is killing us now.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  3. I strongly disagree with deliberately being disrespectful of their psychosis. Yes, they’re insane taking freaking horse dewormer. No, making dumb sketches mocki mg them is not punching up. Like it or not, those sketches are not only targeting the rich and privileged, but also the working white poor, who support Trump and are into the MAGA movement. No I don’t agree with them. No I don’t agree that we should mock a bunch of struggling people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Mary!

      Where do you think that the film made fun of anyone? Please give me the minute in the film that made fun of someone. The film, as is the post, explanatory. It explains the increasingly irrational and immoral behavior of a segment of our population that threatens the health of the world by allowing the conditions for vaccine-resistant #COVID19 variant to develop and the existence of our Republic. No one is making fun of them, but we have to understand the causes of their psychosis to prevent it from destroying us through creating a minority-rule authoritarian state, a more deadly serious strain of #COVID19, and befouling the planet through climate change.

      Please, do let me know what was demeaning either in the post or the film.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

  4. “Menticide” is a good word. Just before reading this, I was writing comments and mentioned the observation of physical inflammatory process in specific brain regions associated with psychotic episodes. So, there are some dots that might connect: Fear, stress hormones, neural plasticity (pruning), inflammation (the immune system in action doing the pruning), and that series of steps to psychosis. We know that several conditions of chronic inflammation, including the auto-immune diseases are aggravated by stress, and fear is a major stressor, especially when it is maintained as chronic.

    Sometimes I wonder how much of the catalog of mental illnesses in the DSM will ultimately be found to be in the category of inflammatory conditions. Remember, Freud, a neurologist, held the opinion that mental illness would eventually be treated as physical illness, and only turned to talk therapy and theory because in his time the tools to find the organic causes were not available.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      Those early neurologists and psychologists were oddly prescient. They did a lot with the little they had. Reading their findings and conclusions always leaves me flabbergasted at how close they got to what we think is true now. Freud is an interesting case in point. He turned away from doing the research he knew would ultimately lead to treatments for mental illness to trying something that was dubious at best and ultimately turned out not to work at all. Psychotherapy is no better than doing nothing to treat mental illness. I understand trying to find a way to help people now, but sometimes I wonder if that was he real motivation. There was a fair amount of attention seeking in Freud. He was not one to toil away in the trenches making incremental neurological discoveries. As he once wrote, he wanted to shock the old people.

      Of course, everything that happens in our lives has a neurological equivalent. It is represented in our brain circuitry. That’s why neuroplasticity is so interesting. We can change the focus of our mind to change our brains, or we can change our brains to change the. focus of our minds. I don’t think it is as balanced a two-way street as that. But, the ability of the brain to alter its hardwiring to compensate for damage is pretty darn amazing.

      Given the role of inflammation in other chronic pain disorders, it should factor into brain-based disorders including those of mental illness as well. Just how exactly, should be a fascinating show to watch unfold as we figure it out. Many roads lead to Rome, though. I know that some alcoholics respond well to OCD medication, for example, and others don’t suggesting that there is a class of alcoholic, and one assumes other drug users, who’s root problem is OCD while others have a different cause of their alcoholism. So, it wouldn’t be surprising if some schizophrenia, for example, is mainly caused by a genetic component that is easily triggered by a wide range of environmental factors and some caused by inflammation and environmental factors and others, still, caused mainly by environmental factors. People under chronic stress and being gaslighted will begin to display schizophrenic-like behaviors and beliefs as they try to predict and manage their unpredictable and unmanageable environments.

      If it weren’t so damned frightening watching the American social scene go to hell in a totalitarian handbasket would be fascinating. Unfortunately, whether we are successful in staving off the authoritarian power grab or not, many people are going to suffer both physically and mentally.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • I keep thinking of Future Shock and the question of what happens when the rate of change in a society exceeds the adaptability capacity of a significant portion of the population and/or the changes are badly managed. The results look a lot like what we are seeing. Then, I think about the level of change it will take to get to Net-Zero carbon by 2050. It will be a rough road, at best.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          Future Shock, now there is a book I haven’t thought about in a long long time, but you are exactly right in bringing it up. This is the moment it was anticipating. Man, it is such an interesting but also sobering point. One of the things I try to do on Ye Olde Blogge is predict what will happen based on psychological findings and what we might could do about them, but Future Shock strongly suggests that such predictions are rarely ever effective in changing behavior. It might be worth going back and rereading it, though, you know, in my copious spare time now that school has started again.

          Your point about the sacrifices necessary to get to net-zero carbon is valid. If we couldn’t even adhere to the mitigation methods to contain a deadly pandemic, which has definite and almost immediate consequences, how will be motivated to endure the discomfort and changes that getting to net-zero carbon will necessitate?

          Going back through that film and the waves of stress, which I didn’t discuss in the post, are extremely stressful situations that are followed by periods of relative calm, but then followed by another even more stressful event so that the stress ratchets up over time. It really softens up a population in terms of destroying a will to carry on and increasing a desire to allow an authoritarian to take over. It just overwhelms the psyche. Climate change will be like that, already is, just one disaster after another with little to no chance to catch our breathe.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

          • There is a good example of the results of a long-term accumulation of threatening and stressful events on that will to carry on, the collapse, nay, the evaporation of the official (in the world’s eyes) military and government of Afghanistan. One more hit and POOF it was just gone. Never mind that the government was a kleptocracy and a large percentage of the army, including officers, were illiterate as well as often unpaid, unsupplied, and without backup (thanks to that kleptocracy), it was that they just couldn’t deal with one more thing and a semblance of peace and going home under the Taliban was the lesser evil. Who could have predicted that? Maybe somebody who was in Saigon in 1975? Maybe somebody who understands cumulative stress?

            The warning in Future Shock shares the fate of the warning in The Limits Of Growth, Silent Spring, the contrarian economists who advised against removing the restrictions of the Glass-Steagall Act, and the scientists who warned of global warming in the 1980s.

            Nobody likes having their “Way Of Life” taken away until it really, really sucks in ways they can’t ignore anymore. Then, they want to know why somebody didn’t fix it a long time ago and go looking for scapegoats. [See how I brought that around full circle?]

            Liked by 1 person

            • Howdy Bob!

              Haha! Bravo, Bob. Yes, it does come round full circle. We’re now dealing with the collapse of our cognitive dissonance regarding climate change, the idea that we could change the Afghan society from a feudal one to a modern democracy with a trillion dollars and a 20 year war, and, hopefully, the #COVID19 pandemic.

              I am Twitter pals with a Middle East political scientist. I commented that few of the pundits are talking about the role that the year long Taliban effort to go village by village and city by city negotiating and buying off the Afghan army units stationed there played in the rapid collapse of the army. His comment was that this is the way all wars and conflicts end in Afghanistan. It is a feudal society with loyalty being exchanged for protection.

              Our mistake was thinking that a trillion dollars and twenty years could change a feudal society into a modern one without ending the corruption and instituting stable democratic institutions. As soon as they refused to do that, which they did at the very beginning, we needed to get out. It was always going to end this way.

              When I lived in Kenya, they used to say that it was our turn at the table, meaning their turn to eat at the table, when their favored candidate won an election or gained an appointment, which was much more likely since elections are still pretty much rigged. When a political position was gained, the office holder was expected to share the largesse that flowed from the corruption to their followers.

              The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport burned to the ground while I was there. The biggest problem was that none of the fire trucks at the airport fire station worked. Their parts had all been stripped and sold by the firefighters. The city trucks were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic that chokes the city at rush hour and took three hours to get there.

              That Afghan president Ghani saw the writing on the wall, stepped up his graft and allowed the army to be bought by the Taliban is just part and parcel of the corruption that such a society lives by. There have been public warnings since the peace deal was announced that Americans needed to get out of Afghanistan. The translators and other Afghani citizens that worked with the US and NATO forces needed to get out, too, but the Trump administration ensured that they wouldn’t.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • I had not heard about the long Taliban preparation work with local leaders, but knowing that in that culture the real power sits with the councils of elders and war lords and militia leaders (often the same people), I assumed they had been doing that and establishing a presence everywhere. The real work of the takeover was done before the troops marched. I’m not an expert in counter insurgency or the history and culture of that country, and have not been on the ground there, but I could figure that out and not be surprised by how it went down.

                “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu

                “One need not destroy one’s enemy. One need only destroy his willingness to engage.” – Sun Tzu

                As regards all the talk of how we should have started the evacuations sooner (and, how much sooner), doing so would have hastened the collapse because we would have been admitting that we did not expect the government to survive, and what we have now would have happened sooner, but we might have had more than one air field to use.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  I am no expert on such things either. The reporting on the withdraw varies greatly in its accuracy. There needs to be a Congressional investigation to establish exactly what happened. It has been pretty well established, though, that the Taliban secured villages and cities through negotiations.

                  We may not have been able to predict the way that Taliban took over the country, but Afghanis should have been able to. The translators and other folks who helped us, the SIV eligible have been trying to get out for years, literally, but the Trump administration, literally, wouldn’t let them. That needs to come out in the Congressional investigation.

                  As soon as Trump announced his agreement, I knew as soon as we were gone the Taliban would overrun the country and the Afghan would fold. I didn’t think it would take eleven days, though. I thought it would be a couple of months and grew concerned with the news of quick taking of the countryside.

                  I think the big error that Biden made was giving up Bagram Air Base. We could really have used it during the evacuation.

                  Trump left Biden with no good choices. I think Biden will pull this one out to have a pretty decent outcome. Many of the talking heads are already changing their tune as many more people are brought out.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Giving up Bagram did surprise me. I guess it came from expecting the government to hold longer. Still, it had better security and facilities to support an evacuation.

                    The translators and others started trying to get out years ago. They knew. The SIV process was designed to make it difficult and make the point that working for us was not a guaranteed ticket to the US. The influence of conservative xenophobia probably had a lot to do with that, and Trump froze the processing, pushed by Stephen Miller. Now we have Tucker Carlson calling the coming flood of Afghan refugees part of The Great Replacement. There will be “incidents”.

                    Another feature of Afghan society that we don’t seem to take into full account is the importance of settling scores. It is a matter of honor in an honor based system. That is something the people trying to get out know well.

                    Early in WW2, when the British were trying to hold off the Japanese in SE Asia and keep open the Burma Road, the The Special Operations Executive (SOE) hired Gregory Bateson to advise their commandos on dealing with the tribal peoples in that area (He had studied similar groups in New Guinea.)

                    Good old Sun Tzu had a few things to say about knowing your enemy and yourself, and also knowing which battles you cannot win.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      In the end, as in next month, I think Biden comes out a winner in this unless there is some horrific shooting incident, which I don’t think there will be. I just read a tweet by a Middle Eastern diplomat who purports to know such things that the US has frozen a substantial amount of Afghanistan’s assets. They will let us evacuate in the time we need as long as we hold those funds assuming it is true. I haven’t seen any reporting on it.

                      I was really glad to come across the mass psychosis material because it makes MAGA behavior so much more understandable. They are behaving irrationally and immorally because their brains have been pickled. Carlson’s pronouncements about denying our Afghan allies immigration status is the perfect example of how radically the behavior of the brainwashed masses can be changed. Can you imagine thirty years ago anyone not welcoming these people after what they did for us, especially conservative white people?

                      We would be doing well to follow the edicts of Sun Tzu before we get into any more foreign adventures.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Forty five years ago, our Vietnamese allies were not universally welcomed, nor were the Hmong. We had the same outrage and hand wringing over the fate of those poor boat people, but also the hope they would go somewhere else, or at least NIMBY. Xenophobia is deep rooted and always available to those with authoritarian ambitions.

                      We, and the rest of the donating world are going to hold the money the Taliban need in order to successfully actually govern hostage to some measure of good behavior (Yes, even China, but they will be less concerned with human rights and such, being concerned more about the possibility of Islamic terrorists on their border and hopes of running their new version of the Silk Road through a stable enough Afghanistan.) The problem for the Taliban leadership is the factions within the movement. They still have their zealots of extreme Wahhabi (Our Saudi “allies” have a lot to answer for.) interpretation and repression who want no compromise with modernity or unbelievers. They also have young men who have seen the world through the internet and want more. We will see what sort of government and cabinet they set up and who is in it. It will include some old men who have been living at the Ritz Carlton in Doha for some years – not exactly the back valleys of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

                      Could it be that Sun Tzu is only studied closely in the military schools and not in the academic halls of Foreign Affairs and diplomacy? Or, does immediate political expediency make policy makers forgetful of the lessons.

                      “History does not always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells, ‘Can’t you remember anything I told you?’ and lets fly with a club.”
                      John W. Campbell

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I don’t know how this one slipped by me.

                      The Vietnamese weren’t always welcome, but in many cities, they were. I remember several families of Vietnamese refugees arriving in my high school. At there very least, there was a begrudging acceptance of them. And, they integrated and have contributed greatly to our country. We’re the better for it. We’ll be the same with the few thousand Afghans that we allow in in spite of the anti-immigrant fear mongering rhetoric on the right.

                      Not only has a sizeable portion of Afghan elites gotten accustomed to a higher standard of living, so have many of the upper echelons of the Taliban. It will be interesting how they deal with evenly distributing the poverty… hahahaha, they won’t because corruption.

                      The Taliban are as corrupt as any of the authoritarians. They know that they have to keep their base satisfied that they doing what they want. If that is living in a medieval feudalism, then that’s what the Taliban will deliver. They’ll keep their luxuries hiden.

                      I don’t think it will be as easy for them this time through as it was after the Soviets left in ’89.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Those upper portions of the Taliban elites and virtually all of the middle managers (many of them now with degrees from American universities) they need to run the place have also been exposed to a wider world of information, culture, and media as well as life-style. This only increases the urban-rural contrast and difference in attitudes and values. And we know well and increasingly how troublesome that can be.

                      Politics, including war and revolution, is always a gamble, and that thought put me in mind of that song by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler.

                      “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
                      Know when to fold ’em
                      Know when to walk away
                      And know when to run
                      You never count your money
                      When you’re sittin’ at the table
                      There’ll be time enough for countin’
                      When the dealin’s done”

                      Nobody in Afghanistan has been dealt a good hand.

                      It also occurs to me that one of the chronic mistakes of the US in foreign adventures is exactly counting the money while sitting at the table.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      It’s always astonishing to me that no matter how poor a country is, the authoritarian rule still manages to get obscenely rich off of it. I guess, the US did the Afghans a favor, though. We made Ghani and his cronies obscenely rich so they didn’t have to money from the poor Afghans. Maybe that meant that the local warlords wouldn’t take it all and they were left with a slightly better life. Yes I’m being overly simplistic and cynical. We knew that we were essentially throwing a trillion dollars into a bonfire, but we kept on doing it.

                      I guess it is a testament to the wealth and power that the US has amassed that we could afford to spend a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and fight a twenty year war there and never really ever miss any of it. Is there any other country in the history of the world that could do that without crippling itself? World War II nearly ended Briton, for example. Seriously, Afghanistan was like a speed bump for us. We hardly noticed. That’s one reason it went on so long.

                      The changes that those twenty years have wrought in the Taliban are akin to the plot of Star Trek’s Borg story arch in which they implant a small idea for independence in one of the members and wait while it propagates through the system and grows. The Taliban doesn’t yet know it, but they may be facing a similar situation. The luster of medieval feudalism may have worn off for many of them.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • When the flood of money is big enough and long enough, even the poor can get a little of it. And, we were dropping similar sums in Iraq at most of the same time. The corrupt elites of even as poor a country as Haiti are always happy to fleece the foreign do-gooder or military ally seeker.

                      Commander Data and Seven of Nine are two of my favorite Star Trek characters ans archetypes. Data is Pinocchio, the puppet trying to become a real boy, and 7 of 9 is the adolescent separating from the family and becoming an individual (with a patient father figure/mentor).

                      Back to my comment including The Gambler, the US really does have a mental block when it comes to the knowing when to fold ’em and when to walk away.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      There is something about that not knowing when to fold ’em and not knowing when to walk away. It’s like we just assume that we’ll be able to make it work without taking any advice from anyone about anything.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • On that point, there is this insight:

                      “In April 1917 the illusion of isolation was destroyed, America came to the end of innocence, and of the exuberant freedom of bachelor independence. That the responsibilities of world power have not made us happier is no surprise. To help ourselves manage them, we have replaced the illusion of isolation with a new illusion of omnipotence.” – Barbara Tuchman

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • There is that, and in thinking about our foreign intervention disasters (including some regime changes and ended up with worse than we started) I saw how very uncomfortable we get with people who don’t want to be us. We tried to make the Native Americans into us and make those stubborn pre-existing nations go away. Some are still trying to find ways. The idea that the Afghans, or the Cubans, or the Iranians would not jump at the chance to become just like us (but not quite as exceptional) seems to be just short of inconceivable. That is, I think, a large part of what drives our inability to recognize something that just won’t work and give it up.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I’m reflecting on the US military’s experience in both South Kore, Japan, and Europe versus other places. We won the wars either fought in those countries or against them… okay, the Korean War never really ended and neither side “won.” We left military units there not as occupiers or as colonizers or as nation builders, but as defenders and safeguards against invasion by other meddlesome countries. Those cultures have assimilated American culture enough to tolerate and accommodate our forces, but they have also kept their deep culture. Our forces have barely assimilated any of the host culture at all but accept that they will not become acculturated and they will assist us in getting through our daily lives.

                      I suppose, we might could’ve used a similar model in Afghanistan — some people kinda suggested it — but it would’ve required a government that could operate with a little advice and monetary support from the US and maintain some internal stability. The Afghans either couldn’t or wouldn’t do that. It was a little like the beginning of the South Korean gov’t after WWII. The Koreans were the only occupied country who didn’t have a recognized government in exile because they had four. They couldn’t unify their government in exile. The best organized was the communist government of Kim Il-Sung. After the war, the US propped up Syngman Rhee and a government to counterbalance the Russians and the North, but they were always iffy. It wasn’t until Park Chung-hee in the ’60’s that the Korean government really solidified and started to work well and that was because he was a dictator in democratic clothing.

                      We never found a Park Chung-hee in South Viet Nam or Afghanistan. We were definitely hoping for one in both places. In fact, it may be the only way that kind of defend and “occupy” model ever really works.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • And, part of what worked in Japan after WW2 was that MacArthur understood the deep culture well enough to let them keep the Emperor when writing the new constitution.

                      One can easily wonder what would have happened to the infant USA if Washington had died before the ratification of the Constitution. There really was no other unifying candidate for President (Franklin? No, he wasn’t a victorious general).

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      One of the curious things about our current times is the lack of such a visionary strong man in our current political landscape. If I were a more political sciencey type, I might work up the roll of those strong authoritarian leaders role during times of difficulty and crisis.

                      It is also curious that the Republicans are making an authoritarian power grab without a central strong visible leader. The eight months that Trump has been out of office demonstrates that he ain’t that person.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yes, Trump is neither strong nor visionary and has left them all flailing about trying to be cruel and against all good advice enough to impress his cultists. The GOP hasn’t had a visionary positive agenda for a very long time, so they can’t attract a visionary leader, only – well, only like what they have. Unable to inspire hope, they settle for inspiring fear and rage.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I would say that Nixon was really their last visionary. Everyone since then has been more rape and pillage for personal gain and insulation of the 1%. Starting with Nixon we’ve seen the ascendance of the dark tetrad personalities and their destructive tendencies.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • For all his faults, which were many, Nixon probably wouldn’t even be considered a Republican if he were going into politics now, but then, neither would Reagan, and they don’t even talk about Eisenhower or Teddy Roosevelt any more.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      In fact, they don’t talk about anyone prior to Trump because everyone who went before him is a narcissistic threat.

                      I thought my grandfather’s life had spanned numerous changes in technology, society, and politically. He was born in the 1880’s and died in 1972. He went from horse drawn carriages, newspapers, the boom-bust cycle of monopolies, Jim Crow laws, and colonialism to cars, planes, and landing on the moon, TV and computers, Civil Rights, the World Wars, and the US as the world’s policeman. Our lives may span a similar amount of change. While most of his was considered good, a lot of ours will be considered a decline.

                      Who woulda thunk an narcissistic authoritarian movement would have actually happened. It was always something that those people warned about…

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • One of the things that the neo-cons talked about when the Soviet Union fell was “the end of history”, twisting the Marxist theory of history into a sort of denial of the importance of the past. This is still reflected in the opposition to CRT, not dealing with the dark side of how we got to where we are.

                      I had a reminder of all that change over my father’s life time (1915-2013) one morning at breakfast in the midst of his dementia. He thought he had to go outside to the outhouse and was surprised that we had a functioning toilet in the house. It was dementia time warp to some summers he had spent on a relative’s farm as a kid.

                      I often ponder the nature of the cognitive difference between Homo Sapiens and our Hominid predecessors. For somewhere between two and three million years the basic Hominid tool kit barely changed – a roughly flaked hand axe, a few blades and points, and not much else that has survived. Something happened in us, and innovation became a habit. Archeologists can date a spear point or pot shard to within a few centuries or even decades, and location by differences in design and decoration. We have been on a hockey stick curve of change for something like 100,000 years and we turned the corner to the almost vertical part about 200 years ago. As much a habit as it is, it isn’t necessarily comfortable, and the environmental consequences are catching up with us. It seems that much of the attraction of authoritarian leadership come out of that discomfort and the desire for somebody to slow it down or turn back to the mythical good old days.

                      The warnings began with The Founders who had found the same warnings in writers back to Rome and Greece.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      It seems that in human group psyche there are two groups: There are those that are clinging to the past and either not wanting to change in order to keep things the way they always were or to return to some halcyon days of yore when things were nearly perfect. And, then there are those who are interested in change and focused more on the future. When it came to democracy, those who wanted change most often supported expanding the franchise. One of the problems in the Greek democracy faced was that as soon as they expanded the franchise to a group, the next group down the hierarchal ladder wanted the vote. From the intellectuals and aristocracy to the merchants to the farmers. At each stage people foretold the end of the world and the impending disaster and they wanted to return to the previous version of the democracy.

                      I don’t think there is ever a time when the two forces are in perfect balance; one or the other is ascendance.

                      I don’t know enough about the falls of both the Greek and Roman democracies, but in the 19th and 20th centuries when democracies fell to authoritarians, it was because the government was confronting a serious problem and crisis that it was finding it difficult to cope with. That angst around the crisis makes the space for the authoritarian to sell the delusion that they alone can fix it.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • In the case of Rome, the answer seems complex, involving granting citizenship status to some conquered people, the empire growing unmanageable large, and the repeated failure of the Triumvirate system (an attempted solution to the “too large” problem) ending in civil war. Political corruption also must have played a hand.

                      A well functioning democracy relies on the ability of contending interests to compromise. Any crisis that elicits from the parties either wildly different proposed solutions, or denial by one party, tends to break down that ability or even the possibility of compromise.

                      Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks! I love Robert Cray. Very smooth. And, we’ve all probably been warned about the woman who is likely on the borderline spectrum with regard to emotional stability, but still dated her anyway. The ways of the heart remain a mystery. Doing the same things over and over and expecting a happy ending.

              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • I saw Robert Cray once live about 30 years ago at a club in Santa Cruz, CA. He and Buddy Guy were touring with the house band from Antone’s in Austin, TX to promote an album (which I bought). The rising young player and one of the old masters traded licks and a good time was had by all. I only ever saw a jam session on that level once before, at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1987. I was there with a friend whose brother was in the last band to play on Sunday afternoon. When they finished their set two of the previous players came out to jam with them, Albert King and Carlos Santana. It doesn’t get better than that.

                We do sometimes, at all levels keep trying to get something right by doing all the same wrong moves, and romance may be at the top of that list.

                Liked by 1 person

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