I think I've mentioned that my father was a professor--and practitioner--of clinical psychology. One of the things he used to say that has always stuck with me is that people actually may choose to become insane. It's an escape mechanism for coping with reality that some people find preferable to dealing with the real world on its own terms. The title of this blog--meaning in history--is related to the idea that my father propounded. Humans, as rational animals, are geared toward the discovery of meaning and order in existence. History records that search for meaning in history. All societies exist in history and seek to express on a societal level the meaning of their existence.
When that meaning is threatened, when it is challenged to the extent that severe doubt arises, humans and societies can react in a number of ways. They can, for example, seek to refine their understanding of the meaning and order of existence. They can redefine that meaning in relatively new terms--although the nature of reality usually limits at least limits the possibilities for a re-understanding of existence. More radically, individuals and societies can attempt to deny reality--refuse to recognize existential threats for what they are. Alternatively, people can rush to embrace illusory meanings that seem preferable. We see many examples of the reactions both in history and in the contemporary world around us.
I've linked two video presentations that look at alternative aspects of what I'm talking about. Neither are long. The first is about 20 minutes and was linked by a commenter a few days ago--I've forgotten who it was, but: Thanks! This video is concerned with the turn to authoritarianism, and why a society can plunge into non-freedom. In a sense, it's a prelude to Orwell's vision of 1984. What conditions can lead to such a choice--because in a very real sense, just as my father maintained, we see that people semi-consciously choose this alternative, which is a form of madness. Madness in this sense, that it's a surrender of the most noble aspect of our human nature--reason--in favor of the illusion of a simpler and safer existence in unfreedom and unreason. Thinking can be difficult and disturbing.
The second video, which I can't embed but for which I provide a link, addresses what's going on with the Covid Panic and warns of the consequences of non-resistance. Whereas the first video seems to have primarily in mind earlier forms of totalitarian--Soviet, Nazi, Fascist--this second video is very much geared to the present threat of a superficially soft and nurturing, but nonetheless coercive, type of authoritarianism--reminiscent of what de Tocqueville saw as the possible end development of Democracy in America.
See what you think of them--separately, in combination, in contrast with what I've just written.
I should add something else that connects with these videos. In my view one of the prime motivating factors in human nature is a very strong desire to belong--to be part of a supra-individual group. This derives from the very structure of human society, because the basic 'unit' of human society in not--contrary to the libertarian or classical liberal ideology--the individual but, rather, the family. As such, all societal ordering--very much including government--reflects the natural human response to the authority of father and mother figures, as well as to the different relationships with siblings and outsiders. The result is a very natural tendency to go along and get along, rather than rock the family/societal boat. Just as siblings who rock the life of a family are resented, so too are dissenters within a society.
In a sense you could say that the modern American democratic ideal runs against basic human dynamics, in that there is a natural tendency to follow authority rather than to periodically elect it and conform to it--even when we disagree with it. Disagreeing with one or both parents is one thing--we still belong to the family--but disagreeing with elected officials whose authority is more metaphorically connected to us becomes more problematic. When a society, like ours, is riven by deep and fundamental differences, it can seem like being part of an abusive family relationship.
I suggest that the conservative 'instinct' is to go along with the established societal order within the bounds of mutual respect--with occasional tweaks--just as each human family may differ somewhat in its established customs and relational order. The liberal tendency, by contrast, tends toward an enforced conformity that is less respectful toward established order ('tradition') and more inclined toward enforced conformity. I see this as resulting from a partial dissolution of natural institutions--the family in particular--and a desire to create a replacement unifying relationship based on concepts rather than real relationships. This reflects a disconnect with reality and a tendency toward mental illness.
If this is the state of our modern life, a return to a healthier life will not come easily. Christian faith offers the possibility of a return to sanity, but it comes with a high entry cost: a commitment to hard reflection on the nature of reality and the nature of human nature. That cost is too high for many individuals and, lacking the support of institutions, may not be chosen. The alternative, as it seems to me, is social dissolution. Artificial patchwork solutions won't work in the end--we see this constantly in the failure of 'planned' societies.
I'll stop--but I urge everyone to reflect on these fundamental matters. See what you think of these videos--is the Covid Regime a reflection of an underlying mental illness at a societal level?
Next, you'll need to follow the link. However, rather than simply supply a link, I'll embed Dr. Robert Malone's brief recommendation:
OK - this video has a super powerful message and a lot of it rings true. I don't agree with all of it - but it is worth watching and thinking hard about. Detangling the hyperbole from just how bad things actually are - is difficult now for me. https://t.co/VNd2UEG3WH— Robert W Malone, MD (@RWMaloneMD) August 19, 2021