More Understanding, More Understanding

President Trump. I could feel my stomach dropping at about 9pm on Tuesday night when I read that Trump was winning the rural counties in the Florida panhandle by margins larger than 2012. My emotions told me it was a bad sign, and my cognition was soon proved correct. I turned off the TV stream, tweet, and my web browser and went to bed for a few hours. I woke around 3am and by then the election was over.

Diagnostic Politics and National Psychoses - Part 2

I want to continue some of my thoughts on psychotherapy and politics that I started to discuss in Tuesday’s post. I’m following the Politicopsychopathology essay by Benjamin Kunkel a bit more closely. The idea of political dream-work is very intriguing. Kunkel describes the persistent sense of deception that now pervades most political debate and discussion in America. The constant praise for ‘job-creators’ by Republicans like Mitt Romney comes in for some close analysis.

Diagnostic Politics and National Psychoses - Part 1

So I have been thinking in psychiatric terms about a number of topics over the past few weeks, in relation to my own work in data management and the contemporary news of the day, which is inescapably about Donald Trump and the American political world in 2016. As the prospect of Trump becoming the Republican nominee for president in 2016 becomes increasingly certain, I’ve started to see a few characteristic stories published.

The Rhetoric of C. Wright Mills

Reading The Power Elite is a joy. Mills writes with clarity, verve, and emotion. He clearly feels that something is out of kilter in American society and that social science can help to understand the problem. Alan Wolfe wrote an afterword in 2000 to praise Mills for his ability as a social scientist, but takes issue with his ability as a social critic. The first ten chapters of the book describe mid 20c American society very well, the final five chapters shift to social criticism.

Hayes recapitulates Lasch

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, a new book by Chris Hayes, calls for massive reform and wealth redistribution to balance the scales in American politics. The sad thing is that the book appears to retell many of the arguments Christopher Lasch made in Revolt of the Elites, published in 1995. At the start of the twentieth century the big political fear were the ‘masses.’ Jose Ortega y Gasset and Walter Lippman told us that the masses were too entitled or too stupid to be trusted with power; that they were losing faith in the democratic ideals of the Western world and turning toward the radical politics of communism.

Noam Chomsky Lays It Down

Today Noam Chomsky, still kicking it at the age of 82, addressed a standing-room only crowd at the Cox Auditorium on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. His hour-long speech boiled down to a simple principle: the powerful will continue to promote policies that help themselves as long as the masses are quiescent. If no one objects then the wealthy will get wealthier, the stronger will get stronger, and the dictators will become more dictatorial.

Mourning and Politics

Back in October 2002 Paul Wellstone, the Minnesota Senator, was killed in a small plane crash in Northern Minnesota. The memorial service for Wellstone was the last political memorial service that I watched with any personal interest. I don’t have a television so I didn’t see the recent Tucson memorial in response to the Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt. But the same people who criticized the Wellstone memorial for becoming too partisan are making complaints about the memorial ceremony in Tucson.

On Violence, Politics, and Intimidation

I don’t know and I don’t care very much whether Jared Loughner tried to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords for political reasons. Trying to divine the motivations of madmen is a fool’s game. I do, however, care about political discourse and the rhetoric of our daily lives. Back in 2000 I bid on my first E-Bay auction for a video camera. A few hours after I won the auction I received an outraged email from another bidder telling me that I had screwed everything up by bidding too high for the camera.

The Decline of America Reconsidered

James Fallows published an interesting essay in the January/February 2010 Atlantic on “How America Can Rise Again.” I think it’s one of the best pieces I’ve read on the American penchant for declension narratives. He points out that Americans have been engaging in jeremiads about the decline of the nation since before there was a nation. The Puritans were complaining about the lost golden age of the colonies just six years after landing in the New World.

Freedom at Work and Libertarians

Why are libertarians so afraid of governmental interference in personal freedoms but seemingly so blase about business or management interference in worker’s liberty? Two recent essays and posts by Timothy B. Lee and at Reason magazine reminded me of this conundrum. It seems obvious to me that a worker surrenders plenty of freedoms as soon as he or she enters the workplace. In some cases it is a surrender of political opinions in workplaces where having a different political point of view from your boss can get you fired.