The political is also gruellingly personal

It is not novel to observe that the personal and the political are closely related.  In my case, the present political situation is also a grim, constant magnification of my personal experience. For those of us who are personally susceptible, who find constant hideous echoes of our personal experience in the political landscape, following the news produces a form of PTSD.  

Gabor Maté made an interesting point about PTSD.  Apparently of 100 soldiers sent into a hellish war zone, like house to house fighting in cities in Iraq where it is impossible to even know who the enemy is, only a certain percentage will emerge with PTSD (I think it was something like 15%).  Every one of the soldiers who wind up with PTSD have childhood trauma that makes them susceptible to it.  Not to say that the other soldiers are happy about the hell they’ve been sent to, or don’t have the occasional nightmare about it, but the exact re-experiencing of the original pain and terror happens only to a select few.  So it is with the news.

The personal is political:  there is a progressive personality type and a repressive personality type, an authoritarian personality type (that can go either way politically) and a type that embraces differences.  There are inquisitive, talkative, collaborative types and close-minded, taciturn, competitive types. It’s easy enough to observe that some types are prone, by personality and life experience, to be liberal, others lean conservative.  Some believe in harsh punishment, support the death penalty and others abhor the thought of a possibly innocent, usually poor, person being executed (as happens frequently) and embrace policies like restorative justice initiatives.  

We have seen a deliberate, massively well-funded project (to be fair, engineered by the far right, guys like Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch, and their highly effective network of morbidly wealthy fellow traveler influencers) to divide these types into uncompromising partisan camps that must fight the other side’s evil to the death.  Who does this simplistic, eternal, total war benefit?  The people who already enjoy every benefit.  It comes at the expense of everyone else.

On a grand scale we see the triumph of selfishness, greed, heartlessness, corruption and flagrant lawlessness among the powerful and the hypocritical application of harsh law, even spontaneous death sentences for powerless citizens suspected of minor crimes.  It can all be explained in an anodyne, New York Times style way that makes the status quo look less grotesque.  

For example, economists of capitalism have a neutral term for the human cost to making vast profits — like babies born deformed and clusters of cancer near runoff from a chemical plant — externalities.  You have to pay these poor people a certain amount in legal settlements, so your profit is slightly offset by the expense, but in the name of raising stock value to shareholders, externalities are an acceptable and unavoidable part of doing business, if the profit is otherwise high enough.   Some would say that decision makers who factor such “externalities” into the cost of doing business belong out of business and in prison, but that’s a political view, incompatible with the “freedom” we all enjoy here in the free market.

When millions marched, during a pandemic, to protest the intolerable injustice of ongoing police killing of unarmed civilians for minor offenses — or none — they were met with teargas, tanks, helicopters, horseback charges by police, batons, handcuffs.  The protesters were treated like an insurgent army, a force the right-wing administration claimed were a deadly, terroristic threat to national security that had to be neutralized with superior force.   What’s up with that?

“If you are angry about something you claim gives you the right to be angry, then FUCK YOU! You want to protest so-called state violence?  We’ll give you some violence you can take back home with you, when you get out of jail, asshole.”

This is the predictable reaction of a narcissistic psychopath.  They will unleash the full force of whatever they’ve got to defeat anyone who has a problem with how they need to do things.

I learned, only very recently, at 66 years-old, that I’ve been shaped by and fighting narcissists my entire life.   A few months ago I described the gruesome parade of many of my closest longtime friends as highly intelligent, darkly funny, prone to anger/angrily denying anger, deeply damaged, unable to compromise, determined to win no matter what the cost, etc.  I did not yet know that this constellation of traits also describes the narcissist.  I guess what made me finally understand what I was actually up against was suddenly being confronted by a series of outright lies, desperately, brazenly spat into my face in an attempt to make me submit.

Narcissism can be very subtle, as I also learned.  The fact that my narcissistic father never needed to outright lie to “win” our arguments early on hid the cardinal trait of all narcissists from me: falseness.  Without that lying piece I could see my father as disturbed, a jerk, an asshole, a tragic man, etc. but his overarching personality type, narcissist, was until very recently hidden from me.   

Now it is all I can see, when I doom-scroll the news, hear George Santos angrily rebut the true charges that he’s a lying sack of shit, the passionate calls to impeach Biden, (details of charges to follow), a strutting donkey of less than average donkey intelligence calling for a national divorce, a spineless political worm’s defense of the “transparent” move of handing all January 6th security footage to a propagandist for autocracy and on down the list.

Narcissists rule, yo, as they were born to do.  They always have the same answer to every concern you might raise “FUCK YOU.”  They may say this harshly, or politely as can be, but the answer will always be a close variation on that staunch proposition.   “You want to know why I have nothing but contempt for you, asshole? How about FUCK YOU, that fix the boo-boo?”

“And have a very nice day.”   

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