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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Trump and social change in the USA
III. Social Change and its Tribulations.
Any social change in any part of the world would affect the rest of the world, depending on circumstances and other factors that are outside the limits of this post. Some changes are easy to talk about because of their clarity and undeniable agreement on their impact, while other changes are not, like the current changes in Africa and their expected impact on the geopolitics of the world in the future.  
After WWII Europe took less than three decades to recover, reorganize, unite, and move toward stable democracies, resulting in unification. Because of the nature of the link between Europe and the US that major change had an immediate and strong impact on the US, but so on Europe too. The US had to adjust to relating to  equals, who continued to change to the better. The eighties' century witnessed  very ‘surprising’ changes.  Soviet Union and China, the two big communist countries (one party system) changed direction. The Russian party under the leadership of Gorbachev and the Chinese party under Deng Chawping reached an internal conclusion that communism has done its work (taking the country out of backwardness to modernism) and was the time to work on allowing the dormant potentials in the country to be activated freely. Gorbachev declared Glasnost and Perestroika, dissolved the Soviet Union, and ended the domination of the Russian Communist party over the communist parties in the Soviets. In China Chawping took a different tact to declare the end of old communism. He maintained the unity of the party as the organization that could manage diversities and control possible forces of disintegration. 
 In Marxism, communism is a stage in socio-historical evolution. It comes when a country is stagnant and not changing. This is why it always came in the form of revolutions because the ruling class always resists change. It is the  responsibility of the ideologues of the communist parties to anticipate and prepare for the next stage after communism. That is what shocked the world when it happened, because those decisions were made by the leaders of the communist parties themselves. All that time, communism was considered an imposition on people, when it originally freed people from the system of servitude that was imposed on them by the Tsars of Russia and the Mandarins of china. However, no one -either from the socialist or the capitalist camps -came up -till now- with what the next stage is going to be (Globalization is not a socio-historical phase).
The US problem with Europe’s change started with R. Reagan. Reagan, in terms of politics and world knowledge was not much better than Trump. But his sunny and charming personality, the optemistic smile on his face helped people to forgo several inappropriate situations. At the time of his presidency the republican party had distinguished minds and Reagan showed willingness to leave serious matters to the experts. He gave the US a pleasant period of governance. Unfortunately, instead of noting and thinking of what was happening in Europe and China a wave self-deception swathed the political scene. Reagan, was very ill-informed about what was happening outside the US. He did not realize that Gorbachev was taking Russia to a new phase in its history, and china was preparing for a new place under the sun. Naively, he thought that asking Gorbachev to bring the Berlin wall down was like God’s promise to Joshua to bring Jericho’s wall down.  He also thought that the evil empire (Lenin inherited the Tsars empire and divided it into 15 sovereign Soviets) disintegrated on his demand, when the fact was that the communist party had decided, few years before, to chnage. Self-deception by considering the world changes a result of the US victory in the cold war had serious negative results. One of those results is the US getting in unwise involvement in the politics of the middle east (Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, etc) and becoming a target for Islamic phantasm.
After Reagan the US had two reasonably informed president, Bush senior, and Clinton (excluding certain personal attributes). It also had Obama who is politically on the same level of the best politicians in Europe. Since Reagan, the wave of self-deception and pompous grandiosity kept ebbing and lurking in the background till the election of Trump. Self-deception in terms of pomposity and grandiosity got reversed. 
Instead of saying “we are the greatest and the best” it is now we want to go back to being the best and the greatest.
This is a political riddle, but psychoanalytic thinking could be of much help in solving this riddle.
Psychoanalysts working with social phenomena use one of the three metapsychologies: topographic, economic, and the dynamic. Most, prefer the dynamic metapsychology because it allows them to mix it with the structural point of view (Ego, Id, Super ego). Thus, they could utilize the known psychodynamics of the individual in explaining social phenomena in the same way. This is not right because there is are collective social agencies like group ego or social id; individual agencies are products of individual experiences. However, using the topographic metapsychology, with a fundamental change could be closer to correctness. The fundamental change is reversing the link between the conscious and the unconscious in social phenomena: What is conscious in the individual is unconscious in the society, and visa-versa (most sexual problems in an individual are unconscious, but they are conscious social issues).  I made that observation and could support by evidence, but I am not sure of my explanation of it. 
The individual is born with mental function that needs and is disposed to mature. It starts with the dominance of primary process in it workings but gradually  the secondary process prevails without the elimination of the primary process. The subject is born with ‘an’ unconscious that is allows the emergence of  consciousness. The society is formed of the consciousness of its individuals but engenders unconscious strata of its consciousness. An Islamic society is conscious of its ideology but is unconscious of its illogical sense of entitlement.
Back to the USA of Trump. Firstly, there is Trump’s base on one side and the rest of the US. Trump’s base is consciously admitting that the US is not great and they have to go back to be great again. Unconsciously, they do not see hope in change and advancing to a different future. This view is supported and evidenced by their hanging on to the economic boom of the present and refusing to look at its roots in the near past and the dangers around its future. Trump’s base is unconsciously pessimistic and incapable of facing a reality that could be very different from their phantasies.  The rest of the US is conscious of critical situation and unconsciously realizes that their country has to go through radical change not just cosmetic retouching. But, this large section of the US people faces three preconscious real difficulties. The first is that a loud call for change could put them in conflict with the so-called American Values (not the place for dealing with that topic here). The second is a long history of distorted meanings of conceptions, interpretations, terminology, and superficial understanding of some of the items of the Bill of Rights. The third is the two-party system. The recent political events in the US exposed the danger to democracy under a two-party system, and fragility of the checks and balances as a guarantee for the rule of law.
History is progress in a dialectical motion: event-its antithesis- a synthesis that becomes the thesis of the next step.  Obama’s presidency looked like a synthesis of Clinton’s and Bush’s (junior) presidencies.  It was not, it was a unique presidency because it declared a radical change in the American society- electing a black president and having a strong- effective- federal government. Then comes Trump to spoil all expectations and defies ‘all mighty history’. Are American people going to restore history’s dignity and make the needed radical changes to its sytem? Or are we (Canadians and the people of the Americas) going endure the brunt of continued political Trump hurricanes?

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Trump and social change in the USA
III.a. The Leader and His Followers.

The similarity between Trump’s movement and ISIS ideology brings us to the
 main question that I intend to address in the next and last part of this posting:
Does psychoanalysis have something to say about those observations?

For now, I will just make some preparatory remarks on the link between the leader and people.

In usual historical events when people choose their leaders on the basis of deliberate political agreement on some objectives to be reached. The agreement is always under consideration, meaning no permeant or binding commitment, and its continuity is conditional on success or failure of the objectives. History in this case keeps following in its natural course toward change and better conditions. We usually depict History in our designs or caricatures as an old man carrying a large Volume and sometimes a lamp. History in our minds is old and a product of the past. Far from truth and fact. History is people who are in constant states of evolution and change. History is the child of the present and the future. If there is no future (change) there would be no past.
But sometimes we witness a different kind of link between leaders and people, where leaders and society seem to be like mirror images and no difference exists between them. Yet, there is a difference between people\leader who share the opinion of going forward and change, and a unity on wanting to stop progress or even going back. Despite the unavoidability of progress we sometimes find societies or groups in a society resisting change and even prefer going back (progress backward) to the past. Thus, we should make a distinction between leader\people who share the aspiration of evolving and another that call for going back. The difference as will see is very dramatic. When a leader\duo is founded to regress or arrest progress the results are very destructive, Hitler’s search for people who share his xenophobic convictions moved from Austria to Germany and found them. They created that explosive historical event of WWII. They did not accept the end of dynastic rule of Europe and move to democracy. On the other hand, when the leader\people duo is based on a desire to progress and reach the future quicker the results are equally impressive. Chinese people awakening in the late twenties (last century) to the need to topple the Qing dynasty coincided with Maw Zedng’s joining the Chinese communist party and joining the awakened China. The result was creating one of the most positive historical events in history. In both cases a question remains unanswered: is the similarity between leader and society created or maintained by the leader or does the society pressures the leader to not deviate from the desired regress? We should look at past events to help us to an answer.
Islam: Seventh Century.
Islam appeared in the western part of the Arabian Peninsula or Hejaz in the middle of the seventh century. The two main empires around that part of the world (the Sassanian in Persia and the Eastern Roman in Egypt and to an extent in Palestine were at the end of their time). A great historical change was in the making. At the same time, Hejaz which was not part of that interplay was also going through major changes. It was an area getting more rich from trade between north and south. Makkah, the political and religious center of the area was getting organized and tribal rivalries were finally subdued peacefully. Bani Hashem (the rabbinical family of el Kaabah) were well established in Makkah. Yet, people were looking for something more than a “temple” and Rabbis. They wanted a wholly book like the Christians and the Jews have. A wholly book is ‘a constitution’ and demanding one was sig that the Bedouins of the Arab peninsula ar ready to form a nation. Mohamad, the grandson of the chief rabbi of Makkah was preaching new ideas of a more advanced religious dogma and started to get followers. He also claimed that he gets his thought from the one and only God, thus he was quietly creating that revered wholly book. His grandfather and his tribe wanted him out of Makkah, while a neighboring city (Yathreb or the Madina) was looking for a leader. It was also a city in the midst of political turmoil with aspirations of its own.. Mohamad moved there to become ordained as their leader. There were two Jewish tribes in the Medina who were eventually neutralized. Mohamad found his people as his people found him. The field was ready for new farmer to seed it with a new crop. The new Arab Moslem nation was ready to move and fill the cultural vacuum in the area. However, all that does not explain how Islam became the second most popular religion on earth. Islam came with three very advanced things: a more sophisticated language and named it the language of the Koran so people had to learn it to practice religion. The second, Islam’s sectorial division (Sunna and Shee’a) happened very early and was geographically determined, so each of the two sects evolved separately and expanded without conflict or serious material confrontations (as what happened in Europe with Christianity). A third thing Islam came up with is a wholly book that comprise a great deal of detailed directives for daily dealings and conduct, However, it has many contradictions regarding religious matters so it was flexible enough to be accepted by all.
In nut shell changing people of Arabia created and used well the historical circumstances to advance by finding the right leader and leadership. They also carried the ball and kept evolving the meaning of their wholly book to meet the new circumstances. In the Koran there is an AYA that quotes God saying: From amongst you shose those who rule you.
The Chinese Revival:
It looks like there is no beginning for the history of China so we will start from the end of the last dynasty of Qing. Sun Yat-sen’s sixteenth telegram to the Empress of the Qing dynasty (not sure of the number) declaring ‘just’ the last failure to depose her made Maw Zedong to say to him enough this nonsense. He was a son of a rich farmer but had his own views of great china. He joined the Chinees Communist Party and got some Marxist indoctrination in addition to being surrounded by some well learned Marxists he started to build the “people army”. With little Marxist ideologies about workers’ rights and political and tactical genius he moved with his budding army to the countryside. Then he decided to take a trek with the army of 10,000 k to North west of china. During that trek Maw met all kind of Chinese in hamlets, villages, towns, farms, factories. He learned from them what they are and taught them few things about organizing themselves. The great March was exemplary of the duo of leader\ people: Maw and his party learned about the diverse country they were to rule, and the country learned how to get organized to be ruled differently. And Voila: Modern China. One side note: Maw’s limited knowledge of the Marxist ideology he adopted was about to cause a total collapse of his endeavor in the seventies (the cultural revolution).
Cause or Effect or Neither:

The question paused above about who causes what to the other in the duo of leader \people has an answer: People (history) changes as a natural unavoidable process. Change creates two reactions in the population of the society: one wants to carry on and hasten the change and another wants to halt and delay change by many means. Each will be looking for the proper leader. many times the wrong leader becomes available and historical events take a bad turn: When the mood is to progress and there is no progressive leaders (the middle east now) the result is social disintegration.  When the mood is regression and there is no leader for that political disintegration occur (Somalia, Haiti). When regressive forces find its leader the Trump kind of society emerges.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Yesterday and today were almost totally dedicated to the Eulogies of Aretha Franklin and John Mccain. They gave some ideas and though they could be shared with others

In the last few days a great singer and a very distinguished politician died in the USA. It is natural that the whole nation felt sad for the loss. All nations feel the same in losses of that nature. Aretha Franklin and John McCain were, with no doubt, at the top of their areas of activity. They also exceeded the limits of their excellence and affected their country in general. This is expected of people with their gifts and character.  But, the degree and the way a nation mourns is indicative of other things than just experiencing the loss.
The USA has dozens of great singers, and among them at least a dozen with a different skin colour. In its house of representatives and the Senates there are tens of distinguished members who did not have the chance to shine because of the glare of other more popular members. The American nation is reacting to its loss as if the country is sinking and looking for straws to hang on to for fear of drawing. Is there any rationalization for those unreasonable exaggerated reactions to the country’s loss? Realistically, there is no reason for that sense of desperation that is mixed with adulation, especially that it is done with subtle and no so subtle narcissistic derivatives. This last observation is important to keep in mind.
Every citizen obtains some narcissistic support from his social affiliations as his nationality or his profession, etc. That portion of personal narcissism mixes with social narcissism to build a stable character. But if the main source of narcissism comes from social narcissism we will be facing a volatile identity (ies). Two things worth mentioning in that regard: the reaction to personal narcissistic mortification is not anger; it is rage. The mortification of socially based narcissism is social unrest that reaches in many occasions the state of war. Wars are only possible when there is social narcissistic sense of neglect and injury. It easy then to understand that some people join the Nazi party or the White Supremacy Clans. In the south of the USA most the members of those organizations are people who have little personal attributes to be proud of. The most seriously dangerous aspect in that kind of narcissism is mixing it with issues of ‘principles’, ‘history’ and ‘values’. They are the magical mirror that reflects an exaggerated sense of envy, impotence and importance too.
That is what is noticeable in eulogizing John McCain and Aretha Franklin.
The USA has been experiencing some difficulties with its social narcissism since the end of WWII, and in a concrete way since 1963 when Europe imitated the EU. As Europe was building its own social narcissism, and East Asia doing the same, the US was changing. The US was going through a significant and very healthy change that was getting her out of sick stagnation founded on self deception regarding ‘social narcissism’. Self deception is the remedy to failure of narcissism in providing imaginary superiority. The eulogies of the two departing great Americans were and are still full of seduction to regress to social narcissism.
This is where I believe there is a looming danger. Trump warned of “violence” if his status is touched. He is right. His base has nothing to be proud of except their defiance of the obvious incompetence of their leader. The forces of change are not announcing the reality of their intentions and the forces against change are denying the reality of change and its inevitability. Here I have to bring to the argument somethings that are never mentioned in their context: Violence in the US has been increasing steadily as social and not individual trends. The expansion of the right to own assault weapons, mass shooting, shooting helpless students, police brutality with some minorities, wars abroad that has been going on close to two decades and looking for new fronts to wage more wars, and the tendency of some unlawful ideological to be socially expressed under the first amendment umbrella. All that makes even Trump’s warning of violence has credence.
It is imperative and timely that the professionals in the mental health professions give most of their attention to social psychopathology even if they are not trained to do that. They are part of the educated American body and should forget their professional narcissism and be just decent American narcissistic intellectuals.