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Thursday, July 23, 2009


On Insecurity - Though not religious by any means I have a great deal of admiration for religious teachers. Think of it, they lived in the same human world as us, sometimes a bit better, often times much worse; yet, they were able to gather followers, start movements and teach often unpalatable morals and to the listeners, morals which went against the whole grain of than social fabrics.
So when Christ says, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do," I listen. Far be it from me to gainsay the teachings of someone who died for his beliefs but since he spoke in Armaic, the words have come to us through several languages and meanings which change with the times, I will permit myselfs] a small reflexion on his teaching. In speaking of some of the hate for the poor and disdain for foreigners which passes for comment here, not to mention mysogny, I believe they do know what they are doing. But in the same sense that Christ said that they should be forgiven for they know not, I would say in modern day English that they are too insecure to prevent themselves.
In the same way that some of the worse anti-semites were half-jews, (one can start with Hitler who was part jew but there are many other examples), and some of the most bigoted anti-gays have been closeted gays, or religious moral zealots adulterers, insecurity about ones own identity often leads one to affirm it that much more militantly.
The American male is very insecure. If you need any more porof of yhat I urge you to look at the puerile comments on "Business Insider" shorn of the intellectual veneer de rigeur here. Why should that be?
Start with the Puritan repression and it s consequently "dirty" conotations of the most intimate and essential act of human life the reproductive or love making one. We at least until very recently come from such an act by two individuals and to demean it and call it by dirty names demeans in a deep sense ones own existence.
Start from there. Look if you need to look any farther the pressures on the male in his role as traditional breadwinner, in a society where participation is a throw away good, unemployment and personal obsolescence the rule not the exception in a lifetime and you have deep seated fear that has no outlet to be addressed. Since revolt, union solidarity or other concrete protests against this condition are not a generally accepted part of our culture the male is forced to cast his identity with the few successful, the fewwhom he hopes have surmounted this fear by unbrideled success. He has no room for the weak, like the confused jew or gay or moral majority, no room for his like because accepting their weakness highlights to him his own panicked state.
The male is consequently put in a situation of psychological disarray. Forced to identify with all the social dictums of the very rich for his own individual psychological reassurance, he knows deep down that most of these will never apply to him and are being used against him. We can see this phenomenon clearly in the debate on healthcare or clearly when comparing (negatively) aid to the UAW to aid to Wall Street Bankers (positively).
And foreigners? One of the pillars of psychological support that the ideology of the well to do gives the American male is that, however, bad and frightening his condition may be he is better off than the foreigner. Whether this is true or even relevant, is itself irrelevant, for he must believe it to accept his own insecurity and pain. So as you have pointed out all foreigners are idiots, fools and economic dolts. Not because they are, or even if they were we could not learn from them, but because like the militant jews, gays and moral majority, above we need to fervently believe this.
Are Frenchmen or Chinese better off psychologically. Well, in terms of sexual repression and self-hatred as expressed in disdain for lovemaking the French are clearly better off. But overall probably neither the French or the Chinese could be said to be 100% unaffliceted. They are part ofthe human condition. But what is important is that their afflictions are different from our so that we can learn enormously from them if we have an open mind.
As I said, I do like philosophy more than the pursuit of material goods but you can buy the book on Amazon if you like - proceeds will be donated.



SS said...

When I talk about narrow minded and hateful comments I am referring to another site where this was originally posted. I hope this doesn't ruin Dink's week-end. Sorry for my absence.


Debra said...

Thanks for your insights, SS.
As the ONLY woman here (for the time being, at least...) I will add my two cents worth.
I have said this before, but will say it again.
I HAVE THIS THEORY that human thought depends on our capacity to remark differences.
And, in psychoanalytic theory, there are TWO major differences that, in the very best of cases, serve to establish the very IDEA of difference that permits us to structure our thought. (I will presumptuously add a third at the end.)
Oedipus complex : the IDEA of difference is vehiculated by : the difference of the sexes AND the difference of the generations.
What establishes a difference ALSO establishes an ABSOLUTE limit. i.e. a man IS NOT a woman. Consequently, his thought processes are DIFFERENT from a woman's. His attitudes are DIFFERENT. (Careful, that DOES NOT serve as a justification for evacuating the ways in which a man and a woman are BOTH part of a common humanity, and share certain traits...)
Something else that caracterizes man's social structures : BIOLOGICAL, and SOLELY BIOLOGICAL/ANATOMICAL observations DO NOT SUFFICE to content ourselves with a sexuated identity.
That part of you which hangs between your legs is NOT VISIBLE in the eyes of society (and I really wouldn't want us all to run around in the altogether ALL the time, would you ?...), and does not suffice to qualify you as a man, in your own eyes, and in the eyes of society. Hence, the things like, dress codes, etc.
My point : the difference between the sexes in our "modern" society has been hit hard for quite some time.
And... those other differences COULD BE, well, like, the difference Republican/Democrat, or the difference American/foreign.
Gotta have differences.
That's why I look with approval on the BIG DEBATE arising out of French Muslim women CHOOSING themselves to wear the veil.
Don't be so hard on your sex, SS.
Women have the juicy, and much envied role of carrying those babies to term AND KNOWING WITH NO NEED OF PROOF that THEY are MOTHERS...

Debra said...

And SS, it may interest you to have FIRST HAND INPUT about French so-called "superiority" in lovemaking.
The French (men) I have "done" it with really don't hold a candle to the Americans that I "did" it with in terms of, well shall we say... CREATIVITY.

Thai said...

SS, welcome back and nice post

I guess as the resident puritan- who didn't understand the difference between deprivation and depravity ;-) - I will try not to take this one too personally and think about it on its face merits.

... Though I am a little curious as to your motivations at looking at the linkage of insecurity with puritanism, anti-immigration, anti-poor views AND male sexuality.

Be that as it may, and without defending any of these viewpoints (indeed I find the anti immigration views of many in the blogosphere quite offensive and I am certainly no prude), still have you not followed any of the moral matrix discussions between Dink and myself?

I think that ongoing framework of that discussion is quite appropriate for your post.

For Burke's quote: "the restraints on men, as well as their as their liberties, are to reckoned amongst their rights" is appropriate.

For must remember it is one things to not attack that which is different, still it is quite another to subsidize it. And in the end we only subsidize that which makes sense to us (notice the recent comments by some on Sudden Debt to "stop paying taxes"- not that I think they pay many anyway) or you own views on controlling/restraining the banks and insurance companies.

... Indeed, you could think of your own views on the need to control/regulate insurance companies as identical to the "anti" views of someone who wants to control/restrain immigration or sexuality.

Indeed, far more people have gone to war/killed over immigration and sexuality than have for misbehaving banks and insurers.

But it is a nice post- Kudos

And Deb, I totally agree with your statement:

And... those other differences COULD BE, well, like, the difference Republican/Democrat, or the difference American/foreign.
Gotta have differences."

The non-zero sum benefits of sub specialization and cooperative economics are simply too powerful for any autonomous individual to compete against.

Greater and greater differentiation is the story of life, as are the endless dead ends this leads to.

Thai said...

And fwiw, I think the anger at bailing out the auto workers is really a frustration at bailing out people who were selfish towards the collective (e.g. everyone else who was not a member of the UAW).

For it is fair to say that at its most basic level, a union tries to maintain autonomy from the collective for its own and its members self interests.

If the union (and its members) were in it for the rest of us in the first place, they wouldn't have needed to form a union now would they?

People have very fine senses for distinguishing real from phony integrity.

SS said...

@ Debra
"Careful, that DOES NOT serve as a justification for evacuating the ways in which a man and a woman are BOTH part of a common humanity, and share certain traits..."

Don't you love it when French philosophy infiltrates English, "evacuating"!! Great Stuff.

I do agree that birthing really grounds women to a much greater degree.

@ Thai

"I think the anger at bailing out the auto workers is really a frustration at bailing out people who were selfish towards the collective "

I would see this as true if the same anger prevailed toward the Bankers who have stolen much, much more. Since this has not been the case I must see the deeper psychological identification with the rich that I talk about as conflicting to oneself as that might be.

Fun to be back.


Thai said...

Fun to have you back and you make a really good point...

I need to think on this a little

Debra said...

More on differences between France/Western Europe and the U.S.
For some time now, I have been observing with some concern the incredible idealism, along the lines of, Europe is the lost garden, that caracterizes American lefties, and their ill founded "nostalgia" for what is cutely called the welfare state.
This is all simply NOT true.
France is an incredibly aggressive, ruthless, conformist society.
French people get kicks out of finger pointing at the Americans over issues like the death penalty and the treatment of blacks, but believe me, I'm not sure that Joe Blow maghrebin is much better off over here than his black American counterpart.
And you kind of have to remember that rich Bordeaux families were fitting out all those ships that the blacks ended up in on their unbelievable (and often lethal...) odyssey to the mother country.
And don't imagine for a minute that there has been great soul searching about this hot potato topic over here. You must be joking... It is STILL off limits. But don't forget that France was an occupied, collaborationist country during WWII also.
Lots of dirt there for the finger pointers.
And one BIG BIG difference between the culture that gave us the Revolution and the U.S. is : a certain solidarity in the U.S., courtesy of the churches (YES YES YES) that the French simply do not understand, rabid as they are about the necessity of having GOVERNMENT take care of all social problems and issues.
Enough for now...

SS said...

@ Debra

Lest I be accused of being a misandrist and too "hard" on my sex, my defense might have been all the more vigorous had it been the less politically correct. So I was reminded of an ancient greek quote -
apparently attributed to Plato who gave thanks to Nature, "first, for making him human and not a mute beast, a male and not female, a Greek and not a Barbarian, an Athenian and not a Theban and for being born in the time of Socrates.

I googled this to check it and to my surprise the formulation was common in antiquity, including in the old testament and most amusing of all was the discussion at the site "My Jewish Learning: A Man and Not a Woman." The most amusing part though generally the whole article was amusing enough and quite an insight into times gone by, was the modern day attempts to re-interpret this prayer of thanks and make the Bible consistent with modern day values and religion. Ah religion!

I do have a post ready on why I love France but will wait a bit and give you guys a few turns, A hint, I've discovered Gilles Deleuze and Felix Gottari. Very difficult but at times fascinating stuff. Best


Debra said...

Yes, the Greeks were REALLY misogynists. And the Romans picked it up pretty well too.
But... the crème de la crème in Jewish rabbinic circles was NEVER misogynist. And I think that it was Rabbi Akiba (but I'm always giving him the credit, it could be someone else...) who came up with the incredible statement that of all the Jewish Bible, if one had to choose just ONE book, it HAD to be the Cantique. The Song of Songs. The holiest book in the Bible, from some rabbis' point of view.
Now, you CAN'T be misogynous and promote the Song like that. Impossible...
I will NOT read Deleuze and Guatteri. Too little time left.
Rousseau first, remember ?

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