Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/14/how-authoritarianism-short-circuits-lizard-brain
Lest we Progressives think that the gestalt is complete by painting conservatives as the only people capable of amygdala-based responses, we should acknowledge that such behavior is observable by many on the left, also. Please, however, don’t by any means paint me as a centrist. What I champion is thinking–thinking for oneself–for one’s interests, the interests of others and the interests of the Planet and her Inhabitants. That process is one in which I trust will deliver most rational people to the Progressive stance, but it is best left to be a cognitive stance and not a reactionary one. We must return education to teaching young (and old) how to think rather than training them how to do, which if given the former is a trivial matter. As the ancient Greeks taught us, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
Lizards are “cold-blooded” creatures. So too are most Republicans.
See where I’m going with this?
The end game of the GOP-DNC junta — an end game that became obvious during the past decade — is permanent monopolization of all economic, political and cultural institutions. This, of course, has always been fascism’s central goal. Concentration camps, torture centers and death squads are but means to the fascist aim. The fascists’ central aim is PERMANENT MONOPOLY OF WEALTH AND POWER. This is also the aim of the GOP-DNC junta that controls Washington, DC on behalf of its billionaire feudal lords. The term FASCISTS is a perfectly accurate descriptor of who and what they are.
Obviously, the GOP-DNC end game is radically and completely inconsistent with every ideal of US democracy. It is inconsistent with peace, freedom and the America Way. It is inconsistent with the American Dream. It is inconsistent with the foundational principles of both conservatism and liberalism.
The GOP-DNC end game is also, of course, radically and completely incompatible with every form of ethic or morality ever conceived by humankind, both religious and secular. It represents NIHILISM, the rancorous rejection of all sense of right and wrong, the bilious negation and hatred of life, family, community, nature, and everything that humans have always held dear.
Reasonable observers might begin to wonder: When will US conservatives and liberals come to recognize that the political parties which they thought represented their values are, in reality, factions in a murderous, suicidal cult?
From personal experience and a great deal of reading, this is a subject I know intimately. First, some back story. As an adopted mixed race illegitimate child, raised in a monoculture that was pure white, pure Christian, and pure authoritarian Republican, it was a learning experience. I learned fear rules their lives, that Men rule everything, and, if you dared to be different, you paid for it painfully. Multiply this by tens of thousands of such small rural towns across the country, and you can understand the lure and zeitgeist of someone like Trump. These people long for a Big Daddy to make things perfect, to stop the chaos of life, and will accept anyone who promises such a life.
Luckily, the minute I left that place, I broke the fear Matrix and lived my own life, which was based on accepting the chaos of everyday living, living with people from many backgrounds. Every time I visited my family, it became scarier how authoritarian they were. When I casually told my father I was working for the McGovern campaign, he hauled off and beat me. I was 24 years old! Finally, I divorced my adoptive family. They made it quite clear that I wasn’t one of “them”.
A child who’s abused very early in life, in any form, suffers from brain damage due to cortisol. Like a traumatic brain injury, it does not heal but only gets worse with age. That may explain the PET scan results. It also means, chillingly, we cannot use logic and reason to deal with them because they’ve been permanently told they must follow an authority figure.
One possible cure is to ban corporal punishment in all forms. Sweden is one such country, and look, Gerta Thernberg came from such a culture. It’s been in effect for two generations now, and it’s proving to work. However, the US of Abuse has yet to sign the International Rights of Children, citing that it forbids corporal punishment, which is our God-given right.
Conversely, ‘The unlived life is not worth examining’.
Why do 'Poop-Lickens FEAR Sharia Law? 'Cause LIARS get their Tongues Cut Out!!
Recommended reading “The Authoritarians” by Bob Altenmeyer University of Manitoba
includes a free download of the book
Hell of a God, that one…
That one is the Abrahamic God invented by Hebrew politicians to colonize the minds of their citizens and turn them into subjects. The Abrahamic God does not exist in a real or cosmic sense. It is a legal and political fiction, as is the self, as is the nation state.
The divine creative force that animates the cosmos, on the other hand, indubitably exists. Some of my human brothers and sisters, and all of my non-human brothers and sisters, refer to that one when we speak of God.
Good to know. I call it the Evolutionary Impulse, The Creative, The Ground of Being. Sometimes the Tao. Doesn’t matter what I call it, and to me it matters that I call it and stay present to it in my life. It has no name and no form and it generates and animates all that is. And I feel very grateful.
“Over the years, conservatives (I use the term interchangeably with Republicans) have swooned over various moral panics”
Authoritarian rule WAS conservative as late as the early 19th century, when democracy was still batshit crazy radicalism. Today it is itself the batshit crazy right-wing extremist faction.
Well said, and a remarkable story that is (good news!) becoming more common. A similar one has been on the NY Times Bestsellers list for months.
And the Greeks also taught us a very important point which, in my view, answers the question of where exactly are we going, the idea of progress which had been defined by the 18th C Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau as “perfectibility”--we eventually must answer who and what we are: “Man Know Thyself”. We are aiming to "improve" ourselves but to what end? The end of discovering who and what we are. We discover that and we discover the absolute worth of all that lives and thus we also perfect our society.
I have been thinking about citing Rousseau’s The Social Contract quite often as of late. Since it has been a while since I last read it, I have passed, not wanting to do it injustice. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that others here are on on a similar wavelength.
This strikes me as very true and it seems our plastic brains can also become quite rigid. We can become “old” or rigid in our thinking which has nothing to do with chronological age or viewpoint. We fear death too much, change.
Now, that our only choice appears to be Theocratic neoConfederate vs Kleptocratic Idiocracy, I’m not taking any comfort in the likelihood that surviving yuppies, conservative [R] or reactionary (D) will simply find some speciously delusional way to blame us evil un-Murikan jihadist BernieBros™ for what’s about to happen (as MSNBC & CNBC types infect their “country house” caretakers, etc?)
Betya, both sides will end up with algorithms, able to track down us commie tree-huggers like radar? Yunz guys didn’t give your real email, did ya? Huh?
~https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/business/masks-china-coronavirus.html (it begins?)
[T]he imagined war against Christmas
This strikes me, at any rate, that their fear of communism and socialism stem in great part due to their history which flies in the professed claim of a “christian” ethos: The theft of the land and lives of the First Nations Peoples, the kidnapping, enslaving and forced migration of Africans to and across this land. This would not only not have been the history of the US America and that of European colonization of others’ lands but communism could not have arisen had they practiced what they claimed. Not possible.
“A Communist is a Christian Soul grown sober waiting for the meek to inherit the earth”
Neil J. Smith from On the Ropes ~www.literarytongues.com
This is the mayor reason Sanders and like minded people such as Cornel West, Naomi Klein need to educate the US American public as to what socialism means and follow the lead of Richard Wolff so that we can undo centuries of propaganda against communism and socialism.
Gretchen, time you changed that frame to something such as “love child”, no?
As for the brain not changing that is not accurate but it gets much more difficult with the longer the problem festers. A hopeful book with insights I just finished, The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge, M.D. So much of what you explain I relate to and consider that all these traumas (had my share in childhood losing a mother at 5 to cancer and then the entire family after she died) can come to crystallize in our bodies as pain.
Second the recommendation; one slight correction: His surname is Altemeyer, with no “n.”
I first learned about Altemeyer’s examination of both authoritarian leaders and authoritarian followers in, of all sources, John Dean’s book Conservatives Without Conscience. Mike Lofgren seems to be cut from the same cloth as Dean, an old-school conservative grown concerned about the reactionary/neocon-cum-fascist direction the Republicans have taken.
The author tries to square the circle of how conservatives have a sharper fear response, and why they do not react to threats like viruses. The brains of conservative leaders probably have a lot of variation in that regard, but what unites them is a strategy of inspiring fear where it is politically useful. Fear over coronavirus felt politically useful to them in the context of blaming the Chinese, not as a threat to citizens.