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Retirement Syndrome and the National Security State


Retirement Syndrome and the National Security State

Tom Engelhardt

How, I’ve often wondered, can people who have spent their lives working in an institution, particularly in the military or some other part of the national security state, retire and suddenly see that same institution in a different and far more negative light? Once outside, they become, in essence, critics of their former selves. I’ve long had a private term for this curious phenomenon: retirement syndrome.


West Virginia had two senators for decades, Robert Byrd and "Jay" Rockefeller. Like all WV politicians, they deferred endlessly to King Coal. Byrd led the effort to jettison the Kyoto Accord. But each, in his last year in office, gave a speech about the downside of coal and the need to recognize reality and diversify the state's economy. I guess this is another example of Retirement Syndrome.


Upton Sinclair's quote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it," perhaps sums it up best. Once the salary dependence is done, the understanding can begin.


In addition to Sinclair's quote, any group of people can breed the GROUPTHINK essential to cultivating a culture of deceit.

My most intense groupthink experiences were 1) in groups of teenage boys, including scouts, 2) working on pre-DLC era Democratic Party political campaigns (GOP would have been the same), 3) academic settings both as student and professor, and 4) working in large public and private sector businesses.

When you are wallowing in a groupthink culture you need to constantly struggle to achieve as many reality checks as possible while most of your colleagues don't even see a need for reality checks...they are totally bought into groupthink.
Most "retirees" never question the years they were engaged in groupthink, so Eisenhower and others who acknowledge it are by far the exception, not the rule.


You dance with the one who brung ya.
It's all about feeding your family and not being an unemployed dissident.
Is it OK to put your ethics on hold while you pursue a paycheck year after year?
Obviously not.
But people will grow a set of balls at differing stages during the aging process.
The young are convinced that they will never die, while the mature are afraid much of the time on their journey to slay non-existent dragons.


Group think is also known as brainwashing isn't it?


It's a release of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. If you rope yourself into something that feeds your family but kills your own soul, you're at war within your own mind. It happens in religion too (my field), where pastors are afraid to preach what they learned in seminary. As in the military, it leads not only to individual, but to societal illness.


Is it also referred to as compartmentalizing?
You know, what Bill Clinton was able to do while he was being a philanderer and married?
Or like Hillary does when she claims to love the little children, but would bomb the hell out of the Syrians?
Or is that some other type of clinical illness?


Senator Byrd was an interesting character, one time Klansman who disavowed that part of his past, majority leader of the Senate, a post he beat out Senator Ted Kennedy to get, and an expert on the history of the U. S. Senate, always admonishing his colleagues for not living up to their consitutional responsibilites as Senators.


Well, compartmentalizing is different from cognitive dissonance. I'm not sure it carries the high likelihood of the dam bursting one day. It's easier to delude yourself longer by compartmentalizing, I think.


Such as advice and consent to fill a SCOTUS vacancy?


You could go out on a limb and call it disassociating which would fit in with Ms. Rhodam-Clinton's pathological lying problem, sort of and that might fit some DSM V? Disorder. Maybe. But she's definitely untrustworthy.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Byrd would have died a Klansman had he not been forced to disavow that part of his past to become majority leader.


So the ability to compartmentalize indicates a complete lack of any core values or ethics?


I doubt that very seriously, as years passed it became impossible for a public official to remain a member of the Klan. I am not an apologist for Senator Byrd, nor am I going to say Mr. Bryd never had a change of heart. Stranger thngs have happened, what about Hugo Black, he was a 20th century attorney, senator and Supreme Court justice known for both his former membership in the KKK and his pro-Civil Rights rulings.


Could. Can also be self-protective in an abusive situation, such as a rape survivor in the military. Many abused children and women survive by compartmentalizing. It's just a more complete separation of thinking, where dissonance recognizes the conflict.


Yes, and when to go to war.


So in the case of the Clinton's and Hillary specifically, her behavior is indicative of absolute dishonesty and a total lack of empathy for others?


I'm not a psychoanalyst, and nobody who was would diagnose from a distance. Let's get back on topic.


Over and out.