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Fri May 11, 2012, 11:38 AM

Fromm on Romney

I'm finding the discussions on DU regarding Willard Romney's bullying as a high school senior very interesting. The majority of the OPs & posts that I've read have accurately identified the absolute character trait that Romney displayed then .... and continues to display today, though in what the 1% identifies as in a "winning" way. A few, including some have appear to experience difficulty caused by the blurring of their youthful behaviors, do not grasp the implications.

In an effort to keep this OP short, I will recommend that anyone and everyone here would do well to get ahold of a copy of Erich Fromm's 1973 book, "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness." Some of my old buddies here will know that Fromm is the "social-thinker" who has had the greatest influence on the way I view society; a couple may even recall my speaking of this particular book here, in the past.

In my opinion, this book would be of more value for most folks than a current reading of the current mental health definition of anti-social personality disorder. This is in part because the "official" definition was altered to absorb the sociopath/psychopath, due entirely to the billing system of insurance companies. (But that is, of course, another topic for further discussion.) Equally important is that Fromm combines his usual fields of psychology and sociology, with history, genetics, and nature.

Briefly, Fromm writes that human beings can engage in two types of aggression: "benign" (or defensive) or "malignant" (or cruel destructiveness). A good case can be made that the benign aggression is rooted in the genetic "flight or fight" found in most of the animal kingdom. Malignant aggression, however, is a trait that infects only the human species.

An important point that I think too many people miss is the role the malignant agressor plays in society. Certainly, if one reads "true crime" books, say by former FBI profiler John Douglas, we are aware of how a "loner" can destroy the lives of those in his/her path for entertainment. But not all malignant aggressors do not always come individually unwrapped. Some are like former president George W. Bush, a man who delighted in the suffering of others from an early an age as high school senior Willard Romney.

In such cases, this type of person often rises to a leadership position. It usually isn't becoming the President of the United States, or even the head of a corporation. Such character traits can be found in many "gang" leaders, and I'm not restricting "gang" to the Bloods or the Savage Skulls. It is found in "good old boy" groups, and in the James "Whitey" Bulgers in our society. Indeed, in a sick cultural group (including sub-groups), extreme cruelty can be mistaken for "leadership ability."

Thus, the fact that Romney was the leader of cruel attacks is important for two significant reasons: first, as an individual, what internal flaw caused him to be violent and cruel to people his self-image caused him to try to define as "weak"?; and second, how did this play out in the group setting? It is no coincidence that Romney was the group leader, and that everyone in his gang (and who witnessed his cruelty) remembers the incidents that Willard claims to "not remember" -- a most obvious and glaring lie.

I'll end with this: I absolutely believe in human redemption. I think that people can change, even those who have been cruel and violent. But when it is a deeply rooted character flaw, the work required for such a change is visible. I do not see anything about Willard Romney's life or being that suggests he has changed.

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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply Fromm on Romney (Original post)
H2O Man May 2012 OP
immoderate May 2012 #1
H2O Man May 2012 #4
malaise May 2012 #9
bigtree May 2012 #2
H2O Man May 2012 #5
Misskittycat May 2012 #3
H2O Man May 2012 #7
bleever May 2012 #6
H2O Man May 2012 #8
NC_Nurse May 2012 #10
H2O Man May 2012 #12
Uncle Joe May 2012 #11

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 12:04 PM

1. My impression is of a man without intellect or conscience, compensates with money and power.

 

There used to be a diagnosis that amounted to "a lack of personality," and that fits my impression of Mitt. I am also on record as observing that he is never smart. He may not come across as overtly stupefied, but nothing clever, astute, witty, profound, or wise ever came came out him.

--imm

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Response to immoderate (Reply #1)

Fri May 11, 2012, 02:35 PM

4. Romney makes

plastic appear authentic and life-like.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Fri May 11, 2012, 02:41 PM

9. Couldn't say it better

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 12:15 PM

2. I think he could present a reasonable, contrition-based explanation

. . . one that was a true apology with understanding shown for the hurt caused. I also believe that he could then provide some sympathy or empathy with those who face the same type of violence he's being accused of; some of the folks who we're working to find understanding and resolution of their struggles today.

It's not in the cards, however, because Romney has already shown a disregard for the humanity of those folks in the LGBT community. He'd actually have to repudiate all of the divisive nonsense and hatred he's directed toward that group and others in order to come to an understanding of his own behavior. it's rather sad. He's cementing his place among a species of Americans who aren't 'evolved' enough to make such connections and share such understanding.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #2)

Fri May 11, 2012, 02:38 PM

5. Well said.

Romney could either make a meaningful expression of feeling guilty, and speak to how that old behavior has influenced his understanding of bullying and hatred. But that would be too close to taking a strong ethical stance on an important issue. So he seeks both the comfort of lying, and the support of the hateful.

A mere shell of a man, he.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 12:29 PM

3. I Met Erich Fromm in 1970.

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Erich Fromm in May 1970. I was a sophomore at George Washington University, and chaired the Speakers Committee that selected and hosted guest speakers for the university.

Dr. Fromm was our keynote speaker at a major weekend full of activities that happened to coincide (unexpectedly) with Nixon's Cambodia incursions and the ensuing political tensions and antiwar demonstrations. This was also during the era when heckling during speeches -- no matter who the speaker or the topic of the speech -- was a common annoyance.

As we anticipated, during Dr. Fromm's wonderful lecture, the usual class clown seeking attention started to heckle him. In many of these situations, this kind of heckling ended a nice event in an ugly and uncontrollable confrontation, making it impossible to continue. He and I had discussed, very briefly ahead of time, the possibility of a heckling situation, and how to handle it. There was no need of that, though, because Dr. Fromm just very calmly and expertly talked the student down in a matter of a few minutes, and the speech proceeded normally to the end.

It was a wonderful afternoon with a brilliant gentleman that I will never forget.





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Response to Misskittycat (Reply #3)

Fri May 11, 2012, 02:39 PM

7. Very good!

Not the "opponent" that the clown anticipated.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 02:38 PM

6. '...people his self-image caused him to try to define as "weak"...'

I am struck by how Romney refers to the president as being "over his head", "out of his depth", having "no understanding of how the economy works", and the like.

It's like some reflexive brain-stem impulse that fragments the world into a vicious king-of-the-hill mentality, with no respect or even real consciousness of other people.

It would be sad, if it weren't so dangerous.

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Response to bleever (Reply #6)

Fri May 11, 2012, 02:40 PM

8. Exactly!

Thank you for that.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 04:26 PM

10. Clearly the man has no empathy chip. You can see it when he talks to people...

There is a clip on youtube of him being asked about medical marijuana by a terminally ill man in a wheel chair. He just gives him a non-answer, never expressing any sympathy for the man's condition...he may have said some words of sympathy, but he was clearly trying to extricate himself from the situation and wouldn't even look into his eyes and listen to what he was saying.

It was sad.

It also shows when he disses reporters who ask him questions that he doesn't like. He gets snippy and acts like only the questions he wants to answer are important.

He's an asshole, not even a polished asshole.

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Response to NC_Nurse (Reply #10)

Fri May 11, 2012, 07:37 PM

12. Right.

I've seen the film clip that you mention ..... and Romney is cold, unable to grasp the other person's suffering. He is not fully human, in that sense.

And his sense of entitlement is absolute. It combines to make him a very unattractive speciman, in my opinion.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri May 11, 2012, 05:25 PM

11. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, H2O Man.

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