Sunday, November 04, 2007

How to be free when all about you are enslaved by an evil, GOP machine

Political "evil" allows people to assuage their consciences in numbers. A person who might never lynch a man himself, might do so in a mob. Lynchings and torchings of black people were most often done by groups -not by individuals. The Holocaust required a "Reich". The Reagan regime required only an increasingly bourgeois populace only too willing to believe the lies it told itself. No member of such a group is truly free. No "good Republican" is free! No member of a mob is free. No group is free!

While psychologists may diagnose individuals as "psychotic", the more harmful effects are sustained when a group exhibits symptoms and acts upon them. There are no un-motivated choices. Motivation follows from our very existence which precedes essence, in this case, the manifestation of character, the gestalt of our choices. I propose that we choose to be free. We become free when we accept responsibility for what we make of ourselves.

Hollywood script-writers say that motive precedes character. Many, perhaps most, will act upon what is believed, in good faith, to be true but others will act knowingly upon a lie. Bertolt Brecht addressed inauthentic" people when he said: "A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it ia lie is a crook!". To act knowingly upon a lie is to act upon bad motives. Jean-Paul Sartre would call it mauvaise fois.
For if indeed existence precedes essence, one will never be able to explain one’s action by reference to a given and specific human nature; in other words, there is no determinism – man is free, man is freedom. Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimize our behaviour. Thus we have neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse. – We are left alone, without excuse.

That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment that he is thrown into this world he is responsible for everything he does. The existentialist does not believe in the power of passion. He will never regard a grand passion as a destructive torrent upon which a man is swept into certain actions as by fate, and which, therefore, is an excuse for them. He thinks that man is responsible for his passion.

Neither will an existentialist think that a man can find help through some sign being vouchsafed upon earth for his orientation: for he thinks that the man himself interprets the sign as he chooses. He thinks that every man, without any support or help whatever, is condemned at every instant to invent man.

--Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism Is a Humanism

In some cases, a lie may not be a true motivation, but only a "cover" for a truth that dare not be revealed. In such cases, there is the "truth" that is acted upon, and the lie that is publicly professed. The intention is to deceive. The GOP is, thus, enslaved by its own web of lies --the lies it tells the world, the lies it tells itself. Only those who can accept the truth of their own existence and take responsibility for it are truly free. The GOP is the party of blame, a party for whom everyone but itself is blamed for its failures at home, in Iraq, throughout the world.

In some cases, a lie is told oneself and the world. In other cases, the truth is known and ignored; a cover story is told the world. Trickle down theory is just such a lie --a falsehood of convenience told publicly to justify economic policies intended to enrich the very few while impoverishing the many.

It is often possible to convince oneself that a lie is true and, in those cases, truth is forever covered up. It is a rare culprit who accepts his own villainy. Most will excuse a crime with a lie, a rationalization. "I was only righting the wrong that had been done me". "I was mistreated as a child". "The money should have been mine".

"Republicanism" itself is a gestalt of lies of many sorts. Republicans embrace "trickle down theory" not because it is true but because it conveniently justifies piggish, often criminal behavior. There are perhaps two kinds of people in this corrupt White House -those who really believe the lies and those who know them to be lies but cite them, in bad faith, to promote the GOP agenda. Motives so assiduously disguised cannot be benign.

It is easy enough invoke a blanket "political motive" ie, if Bush had been honest and up front about the many ways in which his cronies would be enriched by war with Iraq, the nation would never have backed the war. But many would have backed the war and would have espoused the same specious arguments and for the same reasons. Bush lied about WMD because he dared not make public the other, hidden reasons to wage aggressive war.

Evil, and the hypocrisy it inspires, springs from a deep well. Hypocrisy and mass psychoses are only mechanisms by which evil objectives are achieved. Dr. Gustav Gilbert, the American psychologist charged with keeping the Nuremberg criminals alive until they could be duly hanged, identified evil with the primary symptom of "psychopathic personalities" ie, the "utter lack of empathy".

Human, All Too Human (BBC) - Jean Paul Sartre: Part 1

Human, All Too Human (BBC) - Jean Paul Sartre: Part 2

A Short Based upon my interview with a survivor of Auschwitz

An update from my friends at Bad Attitudes:

Even for Texas

Texas, a perennial frontrunner in the stupidity stakes, is about to auction off a state wildlife preserve bordering Big Bend National Park:

The property, which could be sold as soon as Tuesday, is the Christmas Mountains Ranch, a 9,270-acre tract abutting Big Bend National Park near the Rio Grande. It was given to the state in 1991 and leased to the nonprofit association of local residents to patrol

The dispute pits the donors of the land, the Conservation Fund and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, against a pistol-packing commissioner adamant about preserving hunting and firearms rights on the property, even at the cost of denying the land to the National Park Service, although Texas ranks 44th in park land.

Posted by Jerome Doolittle


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