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Saturday, July 02, 2016

Collective narcissism

Collective narcissism provides many benefits to its victims.

T o libologists, those selfless heroes who dedicate their lives to understanding the minds of liberals, an enduring mystery is why liberals always seem to take the side of whoever hates them the most. Whether it's terrorists, criminals, or invaders, whenever somebody hates their guts and wants them dead, they respond with rewards. It's as if they really believed, with Hillary Clinton, that we should “combat terrorism with unity and love.”

It's as if they never heard of the economic principle that rewarding something is the same as purchasing it. If you reward a behavior, they will manufacture more of it for you, hoping to get rewarded again.

Millions of words have been whipped into service to explain this phenomenon, but it is really very simple. Liberals sincerely believe that all conflict arises from injustice. Whenever somebody kills somebody else, blows up something, or steals something, it's because the victim had committed some act of injustice.

If a terrorist blows up something, it's because we did something to incite them. If you get mugged it's because you had too much money and contributed to economic inequality. If you get raped by migrants it's because you were not solicitous enough to their needs.

Therefore the proper response is to eliminate the injustice that we're committing and beg for forgiveness. This will make the enemy love us and induce them to stop blowing us up, because their true motivation is anger about something we did.

This is not really a form of insanity, as some have claimed, and there's more to it than groupthink. Libologists are struggling to define the term. The closest we have so far is collective narcissism, also known as group narcissism or cultural narcissism. This is the idea that everything that happens, both good and bad, is caused by something that ‘we’ did. And by ‘we’ read ‘somebody else.’ And by ‘somebody else’ read ‘Republicans.’

This is no doubt a very soothing ideology, for it neatly eliminates the possibility that there are unsolvable problems, and it promises us a way to make the world a peaceful, idyllic place. When something good happens, we can feel good about our basic niceness having caused it to happen. When something bad happens, we can be angry at the designated bad guys who didn't apologize profusely enough. It therefore acts like a contagious and addictive drug: if only we could convince everyone to take adopt our beliefs, there would be everlasting peace.

Collective narcissism is a cultural meme. The object of greatest hatred is not the terrorists, the criminals, or even the ideologies like Islam and communism that bring people into conflict with us, but those who don't share their affliction and thereby threaten the survival of the meme. To its victims, the real culprits are the ones who fail to pay the communal Danegeld, thereby threatening everyone. The meme comes before all.

They apply this principle to inanimate ones as well. If the climate is getting warmer, it has to be our fault. If an animal bites somebody, it has to be because somebody provoked it. (That this is sometimes true only reinforces the idea.)

Could modern-day people in our glorious age of Internet wisdom and enlightenment cats really be so cut off from reality that they believe themselves to be responsible for all suffering everywhere? Anyone who has ever designed and built a physical object, or tended a herd of real animals, knows the real world does not work this way.

Collective narcissism leads to group-centrism, the idea that one's ingroup is the only one with a valid viewpoint. It is why they explode into rage when anyone challenges their ideas: anyone who disagrees with you is not just an obstacle, but a threat to your very identity. To protect the fragile self, disagreement must be sniffed out and brutally suppressed.

Like a living thing, collective narcissism requires individuals for its existence; in return it provides benefits for the individual.

Victim are forced to focus only on the negative aspects of their enemy, which are labeled with special words to act as focal points for hate. To protect themselves, these hate terms must be defined in such a way that the speaker is immune. While they may repeat Socrates's saying that an unexamined life is not worth living, the meme forbids actually doing it; narcissism assures them they have already done so.

The individual benefits by being provided with with a sense of superiority and self-worth; a sense of purpose, innocence, nobility, and absolution from guilt, with little effort or thought, only belief, being required. In this way, as many have noted, it resembles a religion.

Criminals benefit by seeing themselves as victims: somebody else made me commit this crime, so I am absolved of responsibility. The ideology is constructed specifically to absolve them of any sense of guilt for their crimes.

But to be successful, everyone must believe. When carried to its logical ends, this leads to the a state where all dissent is a crime.

Ultimately, however, collective narcissism, like individual narcissism, cannot survive contact with reality. Facing reality in all its horrible stark clarity is the cure for this dreaded affliction. But that would kill the meme, and that is something people will do almost anything to avoid.

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