Anyone not experiencing some anxiety in our community today must be highly distracted or just “high.” We cannot blame anyone for trying to escape from the consequences of what to some might seem a “beserker” American leadership. Many of us might even be experiencing a little paranoia. When even our nation’s top “exec” behaves as if he is being attacked by maniacs from a Norse saga, who can blame us?
“Mr. Trump is said by advisers to be consumed by the multiplying investigations that have taken down his personal lawyer, campaign chairman, national security adviser and family foundation. He rails against his enemies, who often were once friends, nursing a deep sense of betrayal and grievance as they turn on him.” (1)
Leaving the President to his fate, we might ask ourselves which is the more important question: Are more people in America becoming paranoid? Or Why are more people in America becoming paranoid?
Is it possible that our paranoid political leaders were elected by paranoid voters, so-called “authoritarian voters?” Philosopher Theodor Adorno, a German refugee following World War II, working with social scientists at U.C. Berkeley, asked himself a similar question. More specifically, Adorno’s question was why did ordinary people support fascist, anti-Semitic ideology during the war? He and his colleagues used a questionnaire called the F-scale (F for fascism) and followed up with interviews trying to understand the “total personality” of those who supported fascism or who could be called antidemocratic individuals.
In 1950 they published The Authoritarian Personality describing how those who scored high on the F-scale were contemptuous of those they viewed as weak and marginalized, the other. “They fixated on sexual deviance, embraced conspiracy theories and aligned themselves with domineering leaders ‘to serve powerful interests and so participate in their power.’” (2) In the American community some 70 years later many of us still need to feel powerful to counterbalance our extreme insecurity in a threatening world. Specifically, most people have chosen the beliefs, attitudes and values of their false self as their identity thereby spending most of their energy seeking material wealth, unsatisfying pleasures and pseudo-power.
Our failure to create a community where people can feel safe is a failure to choose a healthy identity, one more in alignment with our True self rather than our false self. We could say that our failure to create a sustainable human community is a failure to transcend the beliefs, attitudes and values of the false self identity, including those typically found in religion. “In one of the ironies of history, as the social scientific portrait of humanity grows more psychological and irrational, it comes closer and closer to approximating the old Adam of traditional Christianity: a fallen, depraved creature, unable to see himself clearly except with the aid of a higher power.” (2) We would be better off if we did not project that power onto our political leaders.
Insight # 73: The purpose of human life is the creation of consciousness. –Edward Edinger
- Baker, Peter and Maggie Haberman. “Isolated Leader Sees ‘a War Every Day.’” The New York Times. December 23, 2018, page 1.
- Worthen, Molly. “Is There Such a Thing as an Authoritarian Voter? The New York Times Sunday. December 16, 2018, page 6.