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On Politics and Archetypes and the ‘Collective’ Failure to Mature: Part the First

2010/07/01

[Update:  What follows is in the first-person narrative form.  Dear reader, please accept my apologies. Thank-you, – Ed.]

The emergent paradigm:

In undergraduate Algebra we played with matrices [um, when we managed to prop our eyelids with toothpicks – Ed.] from which we distilled ‘Eigen vectors’, unique orthogonal dimensions, as it were, that were the fundamental components of phenomena being studied. In other words, we were able to distill clear archetypes from the mess of data – archetypes which could be recombined in varying degrees to describe the system. Man, that was exciting.

It occurred to me that I’d seen the pattern long before, in people, though at the time I hadn’t grasped it: There were three distinct, unrelated archetypes that, in varying degrees, could be used to describe ‘homo politicus’. First of these was the type my Dad had warned me about when I was yet a wee kid: the type of men who sought ‘Power’. Power, he warned, took from others. Later I recognized two others.

Power needed ‘Slaves’… people who provided to the taker. I was curious about a book on psychology on the shelf – Wilhelm Reich, if I recall. An 11 year-old typically doesn’t read such abstruse stuff – but I did read the foreword. The author of the foreword was talking about Nazis and Germany and the War. For a kid who liked to play ‘Army’ amongst the hedges, those words pegged my attention. “Oh neat! This is about the ‘bad guys’!” So I read it. The topic was slavery and how so willingly the peoples of Germany and Austria came to love it. Indeed, they voted for it.

(Continued below the break…)

The author’s point was that the economic mess following the Great War caused mass insecurity in the populace and that, in response, the populace sought a redeemer. Herr Adolph promised the masses economic and collective security if they handed him Power – if they willingly relinquished their liberty and responsibilities to his enlightened cause. The author described it, if memory serves, as mass infantilization, as a gross, ugly extension of the parent-child relationship.

The author went on to describe the horrors of Nazi political massacres as a phenomenon of that willing slave mentality. It was the first I’d read of ‘brown shirts’ and what came to be known as the Holocaust. I do not recall the entire essay, but that counter-intuitive fact struck home. People would willingly choose slavery. Worse, that slaves were as guilty as their master in the evils they commit.

As an adult I came to recognize yet another archetype: The ‘Free Man’. The free man seeks no power. The free man rejects slavery in favor of independence. The free man simply wishes to be left alone to work amongst his peers in his own best interest. The free man prefers adult relationships and adult pass-times. The Free Man, on one end, has little in common with the (collectivist) Power-Slave** set at the other.

Later, as a husband and father I came to recognize that a wise adult recognizes when, in context, each of these archetypes is an appropriate role, and to what extent.

. . .

On politics and archetypes and the ‘collective’ failure to mature:
The topic is one I’ll develop over time. A few random thoughts… Much of Ayn Rand’s work makes sense in this paradigm. Her objective independent is an adult and her collectivists are immature.

Mark Steyn has written about mass infantilization and the nanny state in his ‘America Alone‘. His book has an interesting and ironic title: ‘America’ is an idea, a singular paradigm of ordered liberty. It is indeed alone amongst the array of collectivist theories – all of which are failing or have failed miserably. You don’t need a coroner to tell you what that smell is…

One political consequence of the paradigm to be dealt with is it’s butting against the philosophical principle that ‘argumentum ad hominem’ is usually a fallacy. There are contexts, however, wherein ad-hominem is entirely appropriate. The Left isn’t going to take kindly to being called infantile or immature en-masse or hooked on the master-slave drug. After all, Alinsky’s primary weapon was the ad-hominem attack.

(**It has been argued elsewhere that the Master-Slave relationship is but one archetype sharing different ends along the same axis.  The model works compatibly with this paradigm.)

UPDATE: Commenter Steven Givler offers the following observations:

When I think along these lines, which is often, I’m reminded of the man who told the candidates at the Bush/Clinton debate (I think that’s where it happened) that, as President, they would be the nation’s father figure, and then he asked what, as our father, they would provide for us.

If a free man had been standing on that dias, he would have reminded the poor sap that he wasn’t his daddy, and that no politician can provide anything that hasn’t first been stolen, diminished, and distorted beyond recognition. A free man would have said that, as president, he would avoid the conceit of presuming it was his job to do anything other than keep our nation free and protect the rights of its citizens.

Of course, if free men had been sitting in the audience, they would have told the questioner the same thing, but nobody, neither on the dias nor in the audience seemed shocked by the question. In fact, the candidates both embarrassed themselves by accepting the premise and trying to answer as if they really thought themselves capable of being father to the nation.

I wasn’t familiar with the term, infantilization, so I couldn’t put a handy name to what was causing my disgust, but I’ve had years to think about it, and I agree; there is something in human nature (amplified, I think by parents who fail to teach their children responsibility and by adults who refuse to become parents) that seeks the easy path, and is willing to pay the highest of prices for it.

Heh. Exactly. I’m reminded of one politician – Senator Fred Thompson – telling the School Marm that, no “I don’t do a show of hands!” or words to that effect.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 2010/07/01 20:48

    When I think along these lines, which is often, I’m reminded of the man who told the candidates at the Bush/Clinton debate (I think that’s where it happened) that, as President, they would be the nation’s father figure, and then he asked what, as our father, they would provide for us.

    If a free man had been standing on that dias, he would have reminded the poor sap that he wasn’t his daddy, and that no politician can provide anything that hasn’t first been stolen, diminished, and distorted beyond recognition. A free man would have said that, as president, he would avoid the conceit of presuming it was his job to do anything other than keep our nation free and protect the rights of its citizens.

    Of course, if free men had been sitting in the audience, they would have told the questioner the same thing, but nobody, neither on the dias nor in the audience seemed shocked by the question. In fact, the candidates both embarrassed themselves by accepting the premise and trying to answer as if they really thought themselves capable of being father to the nation.

    I wasn’t familiar with the term, infantilization, so I couldn’t put a handy name to what was causing my disgust, but I’ve had years to think about it, and I agree; there is something in human nature (amplified, I think by parents who fail to teach their children responsibility and by adults who refuse to become parents) that seeks the easy path, and is willing to pay the highest of prices for it.

  2. 2010/07/02 13:18

    If a free man had been standing on that dias, he would have reminded the poor sap that he wasn’t his daddy, and that no politician can provide anything that hasn’t first been stolen, diminished, and distorted beyond recognition. A free man would have said that, as president, he would avoid the conceit of presuming it was his job to do anything other than keep our nation free and protect the rights of its citizens.
    +1

  3. Mrs. Kissell permalink
    2010/07/02 17:30

    These are four long, connected essays and technical for being deeply and broadly historical. They are also accurate and, IMO, plenary tracking lead-ups to current situation. And they bear directly, though [fair warning] extensively, on the content of this post. In order of Part I, Part II, etc., they are:

    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4440

    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4452

    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4461

    http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4466

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