When we hear that "Russia wants us to be divided", I look at that and see it as something vague and meaningless and I also look at who is saying it, often said by pundits who have spent careers dividing people here in the US; setting up "all lives matter" to be some sort of opposite to the black lives matter movement, dividing the poor white man against the poor black man, dividing private sector employees against public sector employees, dividing heterosexuals against the GLBTQ population, trying to turn "liberal" into a dirty word, and more.
Now I have no doubt in my mind that the Putinist regime is influencing American politics, but to what end? To divide us? To break this country apart? No, I don't think so. I think this whole "division" thing is not only overblown as an issue but is not the real end to Putinist influence.
No, I think the real end is to normalize and make the worldview OK with corruption, state sponsored terror, cronyism, nepotism, unqualified government, and a government that is insular and is itself a state within a state, in other words, government becomes an organ of the few and those with the means to influence it... in other words, a government that occupies your country, but is not YOUR government, and may be even against you.
So what does the Putin regime want for us specifically?
I would imagine...
* It wants us to be OK with what happened in Ryazan in 1999, with Alexander Litvinenko, with Sergei Magnitsky, with it's invasions, with MH17, with Sergei Skripal, etc. Remember that when you see the cheerleaders of the Iraq war back in the government and torture being rationalized as OK.
* It wants us to treat the Trump family, the Flynn family, the Shoebat family, the DeVos family, and other clans as "experts", "gurus", and the government itself
* It wants us to normalize oligarchy and plutocracy, it wants us to see things like the Dow as a fundamental of the economy rather than you being able to put food on your table or pay rent
* It wants us to grudgingly accept gross (But not just in scale, but also disgusting) disparities as "facts of life", just like what the Putinist regime has forced it's own people to accept. It would probably want us to be offended by black people kneeling as a form of protest but we have to be OK with people waving the confederate flag along the American flag. It wants us to be OK with a violent Muslim being a "clash of civilizations" but a violent white person being "mental illness, nothing you can do". It wants us to be OK with "affluenza". It wants "the problem" to not be disparities, but resisting them, or even pointing out that they exist to be seen as "the problem" instead.
* It wants us to have to accept "there's nothing you can do", it would want us to accept the lie that there's nothing you can do to change the landscape, the political culture, inequalities, how you get your healthcare, the system, etc. It wants you to ignore the fact that there are things you can do to change all of these things every single day. Putin wins when you embrace system justification, the status quo, inaction, complacency, and learned helplessness.
So when you see or hear that Russia wants us divided, you should ask if that person means these things above specifically because just saying Russia wants us divided, it doesn't help us, and it doesn't solve what is going on.
Not because of "anxiety".
If I had a hurting business, I wouldn't say "People of the wrong color, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, etc. can't use my services. Go take a hike." Now, I wouldn't do it period. But if I did, I'd make sure I would have the economic and social capital to make up for lost business, business I would never get, backlash, etc. But maybe that's just me.
People have problems, but when YOUR problem is "Agh, the phone told me to 'press 1 for English', I'm going to start a revolution!!!ONE1" or "You people are speaking Spanish, you should all be deported!" as opposed to, I don't know, "the government is coming to kill us" or "I have to cross a minefield to get drinking water"; then that is privilege speaking.
Finally, I see "glorifying the past" as sort of a theme park. It's the year 2018, get with the program. It's not going to be the 1950s ever again and we're certainly not going back to Roy Moore's preferred time, before the civil war... even though there might "have been just a little bit of slavery". When you glorify the past, see the present as garbage, but see the future as some possible simulation of that glorified past, then you aren't being realistic, you're living in a fantasy world. Good that you have the spare resources to be able to do that, some invisible advantage helping you to make sure you don't live in the harsh reality of modern medicine and the horror of having to deal with people of different colors, sexual orientations, genders, religions as equals.
And there's your "Let's understand them" minute for today.
And now we must talk about the difference one word can make.
Imagine for a moment if someone came up to you and declared...
"Aliens are coming to kill you!"
"Aliens are keeping us from getting jobs!"
"Aliens want to sexually assault you!"
"Aliens! Aliens! Aliens!"
What would you do? Would you take this person seriously? Would you consider them reporting them to the police if you did not know this person and they made these warnings to you? Would you seek help for this person? How many serious news stories and political discussions do you see on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. talking of this? The answer for that last one is, of course, zero.
Now add "Illegal" before every mention of "Aliens" and what do you get? You get a Republican, you get campaign ads, you get media coverage of this, you get "while his views are repugnant, there is nothing we can do", you get "freedom"... no longer a person who is burdened with psychosis and mental illness, but just being "politically incorrect" at worst.
Unusual, right? The difference this one seven letter long word can make?
If our reality, perceptions, memories, cognition, reactions, and judgment can be completely altered with one word, then we have to ask ourselves then, where else can we see this?
This issue of those "aliens" above pertains to the idea of a delusion - Which according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as "a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary as well as the abnormal state marked by such beliefs."
"Maintained", that is another interesting concept that needs to be explored as we delve deeper into the idea of normalization of the delusion. One maintains infrastructure, one maintains a house, abstract things, their health, and more... But can something that is unhealthy and hazardous to the health of the self and others be maintained at all? Can we see it be maintained by others?
There are many sub-types of the delusion. The delusion of persecution is one that has already been touched on a little bit, but we must speak of it a little bit more...
"X is coming to get you!"
"X is coming to kill you!"
"X is coming to steal from you!"
"X is coming to hurt you in some way!"
How many groups do we see that replaced "X" it comes out of pundits, politicians, the media, laypeople, etc.? "The immigrant", "The leftist", "The Muslim", "The black", "The jew", "The liberal", "The poor", "The person slightly poorer than you", "The gay", "The lesbian", "The transgender", "The refugee", and more.
Notice how interchangeable it is. And it really is, one day you may see "X" being a Muslim, another it will be a leftist. And it's often from the same people. That is not a coincidence. When it comes to the delusion of persecution, you just feel someone is out to get you, the name and face changes, but it is the idea that "someone", some "other" is out to get you.
The delusion and it's break from reality could have been seen in action recently. Take the recent example of what happened in a Starbucks where a white man berated a Muslim woman in religious garb and saying he did not want to be killed by her. Now consider how many Muslim women in hijabs and niqabs are attacking high schools, elementary schools, pool parties, movie theaters, music festivals, Waffle Houses, and more. Is it greater or lesser than the number of white men who look just like him who are attacking these places?
And of course, there is the delusion of grandeur. This is the delusion that someone is great, powerful, that the world exists for them, that they have abilities beyond others, and more. Could this be racism itself? Could this be the far right and alt right politics we see today?
Take a barely literate white man, criminal record, no real contributions to society, gets by on depending from others, and any number of things. Give him nationalism, give him white supremacy, give him sexism, and more. Now all of the sudden, he is someone. He now sees himself as "smarter and greater than any black man" who is smarter and more assimilated than him. He is just "better than any woman". He is now a "part of and an instrument of western civilization" itself.
Racism speaks to this "maintenance", it's a worship of a skin color and the derision of others you don't like. You see, we see the names and faces change, but where don't we see them change? A common pseudo-statistic we see is "Blacks consist X% of the population but are Y% of (some deviant group)" with Y being anything from single parent households, criminals, convictions, etc.
Left handed people make up 10% of the population but account for 40% of schizophrenics, there is loose data suggesting they may make up a higher proportion of people in the penal system, and they thrive in societies where violence is necessary. Yet there are no "handedness realists", there are no controversial college speakers on the subject of left handedness being something that is a problem, we don't have politicians and pundits saying things about the left handed and then saying that the "liberal media wants to cover it up", etc.
Perhaps this would be a truly unwanted delusion? One that must be maintained out?
And finally we need to speak about the intersection of delusion with class. Interesting, right? How if one has stacks of old newspapers and dead cats, they are a compulsive hoarder and they need help. But replace "old newspapers and dead cats" with money, they are suddenly a job creator and touching them is now "class warfare" and "socialism".
We must make an effort to find more things, that if they are tweaked in some way, that they switch from being political rhetoric and the realities of today's alt right and far right influenced environment to being a delusion.
It truly needs to be asked... What else is delusional in our political system?
You encounter a man screaming about violent lesbian gangs taking over US cities, he of course has not a single shred of evidence backing his claim up, and he is known for another conspiracy theory.
Is he a schizophrenic? No. He is (or was) a Fox News contributor.
You encountered that man on your television set. Instead of getting him treatment and not enabling him, our political culture promotes him as the "other side of the aisle" opposite of us.
Just how deep does this go really though?
If you have stacks of old newspapers, don't want to give any of that excessive amount away, and are hiding them away from people; then you are a compulsive hoarder. Change it to money, and you're an esteemed "job creator" all of the sudden. Take that money away and the pundits say you are waging "class warfare", not helping a sick person with "affluenza".
If you go out of your way to shock and offend people, make wildly untrue and exaggerated claims, don't care about the feelings of others, are into self-aggrandizement, don't show any empathy, etc.; then there is a good chance you have a serious personality disorder. If you do this in front of a group of white men (Disclosure: White male myself), then you're just being "politically incorrect" and you're just telling it like it is. Weird right?
Confabulation and WernickeKorsakoff syndrome are problems relating to human memory, it means you have bizarre and distorted memories that have no bearing in what really happened. Your memory of what you did does not include the characters from your favorite TV show dropping by and giving you Christmas presents. That's a very clear example of what damaged memory errors are exactly. But hey, say the time before the Civil War "even though there was some slavery" was the greatest ever and you might almost become a Senator. Slap a confederate flag and it's no longer "You don't know what you are talking about", now it's "Heritage, not hate".
I've kind of taken a light break, but I came back with this idea. And it needs to inhabit a good chunk of what we do; from how we vote, to how we do activism, and more.
* Call it out
* Make comparisons to mental illnesses
* Stop enabling, stop supporting enablers
* Learn the traits of people with personality disorders
* Stop supporting politicians and pundits just because they shock and offend people you don't like, see how accurate their claims are, what results they get
* And more
If you're wondering why our political culture has become so toxic as of late, then maybe this is why. Because we are failing to have this approach to it, it's time to grow up, and deal with the increasingly sick political environment.
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