Saturday, February 10, 2007
"TELL ME,...WHERE DO YOU WANT THIS KILLING DONE?"
"...generally accepted in Christianity [is that] all mankind is tainted by the sin of Adam...and in all of us there is a disposition to the evil character responsible for that terrible deed. But in all of us, besides the inclination to revolt against the deity...is something of that exaggerated pride and hypertrophic vanity that makes us think of ourselves as godlike."On the other hand, as Dr. Reik points out, the neurotic who successfully resists temptation is still quite harsh on himself, because the moderator of conscience (his superego) "treats certain wishes as though they were real transgressions." Neurosis is a common enough feature, and the conclusion about guilt. that Reik arrives at, is that it is grounded in aggression, often aimed at a loved one, which conscience forbids the person to even think about. This inner conflict cannot be expressly resolved.
"Brushing away all religious veneer and looking at the question from the viewpoint of sober scientific research, is there, in reality, in all human beings a kind of innate overconfidence in their own powers?"
"It is very likely, however, that the assumption of such a general disposition does not regard actions, but rather activity in thoughts: in other words, overevaluation of mental activities, fantasies, wishes."
"Psychoanalysis asserts that children have really a grandiose concept of the power of their own thoughts and learn only late to acknowledge the limitations set to their daydreams and wishes. A small boy or a small girl will at first believe that he or she can grasp the moon looking into the nursery. Such extraordinary belief in one's own mental processes is often unconsciously maintained and kept in spite of opposite rational views."
"In psychoanalysis of neurotic patients, especially in obsessive cases, we regularly encounter manifestations of that old belief in the omnipotence of their thoughts." --Theodor Reik, MYTH AND GUILT, p. 413-14
"The tension between the strict superego and the subordinate ego is called "sense of guilt"...and it manifests itself as a need for punishment".We have to be worried about our President, George W. Bush, because he shows very little sign of this moral grounding. "The guilt feelings of mankind have their root in aggression and violence"; but there is extreme danger arising in the rare man who operates without any sense of guilt. Will America lead the world toward total war, at the bidding of such a man? This curious President who has so often clowned and mugged for the cameras, is one who has always been more dangerous than he appears to be on the surface.
This goes back to the most fundamental moral affect, which we encounter as children. And Dr. Reik identifies the genesis of guilt as directly connected to the dread of losing love. "A bad deed precipitates discovery of the misdeed which precipitates loss of love (and protection) for the child."
H.L. Mencken's admonishment that "Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking" does not seem to be working in the case of President Bush. The whole world is looking at the President's prevarications as he makes his preparations for an attack on Iran.
Our desperate hope is that Congress will act in time to prevent the escalation against Iran that Bush seems determined to mount. As US Occupation forces pass through Iraq's shattered communities, this war may spread further, with apocalyptic violence, as it swirls on, and burns through Iran and Afghanistan.
President Bush seems to think that America should sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. He may think he has been given the access code to the nation's messianic buttons. He may think that God has chosen him to activate the Book of Revelations. But the President can no longer coax the public into seeing him as some poor neurotic (like them), obsessed with his past failures, and driven to prove himself as his father's equal. The reality is much more sinister. There is no moral agent in this man, no conscience, nothing to curb ambition or deter omnipotent moods.
Chris Hedges has warned us about the Christian Right and its seductive vision of absolutism and apocalyptic violence, in his new book called American Fascists.
"The ecstatic belief in the cleansing power of apocalyptic violence does not recognize the right of the victims to self-preservation or self-defense. It does not admit them into a moral universe where they can have a criminal's right to be punished and rehabilitated. They are seen instead through this poisonous lens as pollutants, viruses, mutations that must be eradicated to halt further infection and degeneration within society and usher in utopia. This sacred violence--whether it arises from the Bible, Serbian nationalism, the dream of a classless society, or the goal of a world where all "subhumans" are eradicated--allows its perpetrators and henchmen to avoid moral responsibility for their crimes. The brutality they carry out is sanctified, an expression of not human volition but divine wrath. The victims, in a final irony, are considered responsible for their suffering and destruction."
"Societies that embrace apocalyptic visions and seek through sacred violence to implement them commit collective suicide."
The endgame is already set in motion.