Just Shoot Me 2010, v.1

Sheria at The Examined Life posted some statistics from the Daily Kos depression poll of the century. Just as well, I need crap like this … extrapolated so as to keep it at some remove. Sanity is precious, you know,  and one wants to go on believing the best of ones’ neighbors, in both the immediate and existential sense. I have always thought that being hateful inside must be the most boring of lives.

Why is this poll so disconcerting? For one, it rips the hell out of the fabric of social trust. If 53% of Republicans believe Sarah Palin would be a better president than Barack Obama, what’s to stop them from not waiting their turn at four-way stops? I suppose their concern for their own hides, and that goes a long way … but once you start thinking about this and realize you live in a country of the insane, hell, public safety is up for grabs.

Not but what a goodly if unmeasurable portion of the terrible flap in which this country currrently struggles isn’t the logical outcome of having a freakin’ African-American president. You think people were ready for that? Wonder that it is, and such a fantastic closure to some truly hideous incidents in American history—we’re talkin’ buying and selling people, right here in the home of the free—I think it has stirred up the deepest and, forgive me, darkest stuff.

Christ it must be a terrible nuisance, having skin of a dark color. Target of more projections than Freud or Jung could shake a stick at.

This business of flying planes into buildings in protest. In protest of what? I think that at bottom (and I do mean bottom) you’ve got a lot of angry white men, perhaps mostly of middle-age and older, who have lost that to which they felt superior all their lives. Perhaps not closely examined, overt racism, but it’s so reassuring, just knowing you are better than someone. If, of course, you have the pecking-order brain of the male.

A big if, but the women don’t come off any better. Remember, this is Lakoff’s Patriarchal Family, which suggests the women actually listen to the crap that comes out of these mens’ mouths, and believe it. I remember a moment in the campaigning when some addled old lady held up her shaky sign, “Obama = Terrorist” and John McCain stopped, mid-rally, and said to her, “No, ma’am, that’s wrong. He’s a good family man same as me.” Yes, he took the wind out of her sails, but politely, gently … but what got me was her reponse. In a pitiful small voice, she said—I mean, John McCain had spoken right to her—”He is?”

What’s happened is The Times They Are A-Changing faster than these people—and the patriarchal model within which they live—can cope. With no one to explain it to them, only whip up fears and hate, every single man and woman who answered this poll did so in a delusional state. (No, not Pennsylvania.) They are the true victims … as I suppose is true of all sorts of vile. You have to cook up a lot of hatred inside to fuel that suicide flight. The pilot? In his note, he hoped he would be an example. Imagined I suppose squadrons of IRS kamikaze—which ain’t the American way.

Here they are, your neighbors and mine, in all their deluded spendor. They hate to be called delusional, it’s a term used by the Elite.

63% of Republicans believe Obama is a socialist while 21% disagree and 16% are not sure.

42% believe Obama was born in the U.S. while 36% do not, with 22% undecided.

53% believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama while 14% do not and 33% are undecided.

31% believe that Obama is a racist and hates white people, while 36% say he is not a racist and 33% are undecided.

24% say they believe Obama wants terrorists to win while 43% say Obama does not want terrorists to win, and 33% are undecided.

39% say Obama should be impeached; 32% disagree and 29% are undecided.

67% say the only way for an individual to go to heaven is through Jesus Christ.

91% support the death penalty.

All I got to say is, Folks, good luck undoing the arrow of time.


5 thoughts on “Just Shoot Me 2010, v.1

  1. Pick your century and you’d get the equivalent of the Daily Kos poll, not that they had opinion polls in the 12th century. Lots of people have always believed the most remarkably stupid things—not only things that couldn’t possibly be so, but things,that if believed and accepted and acted upon, have been virtually GUARANTEED to make their lives a lot worse.

    Gregory Bateson’s now-classic formulation of the double-bind theory was discredited as an explanation of the genesis of schizoprenia, but it remains a very powerful explanation of how children suffer and how they are wounded, often with life-time wounds, simply by virtue of being born into families in which profoundly contradictory messages and meta-messages rain down on their innocent heads until nothing is predictable but pain.

    The philosopher Richard Tarnas has an interesting post-modern (well, post-something) spin on Bateson’s double bind theory, by which he extrapolates from the parent/child relationship to society and the individual within society.

    Tarnas writes:

    Now, if we substitute in these four premises ‘world” and ‘human being’ for child, we have the modern double bind in a nutshell: (1) the human being’s relationship to the world is one of vital dependency, thereby making it critical for the human being to assess the nature of the world accurately. (2)The human mind receives contradictory or incompatible information about its situation with respect to the world, whereby its inner psychological and spiritual sense is incoherent with the scientific metacommunication. (3) Epistemologically the human cannot achieve direct communication with the world. And (4) Existentially the human being cannot leave the field.

    The differences between Bateson’s double-bind and the modern existential condition are more in degree than in kind: the modern condition is an extraordinarily and fundamentally encompassing double bind, made less immediately conspicuous because it is so universal. We have the post-Copernican dilemma of being a peripheral and insignificant inhabitant of the vast cosmos, and the post-Cartesian dilemma of being a conscious, purposeful and personal subject confronting an unconscious purposeless and impersonal universe, with these compounded by the post-Kantian dilemma of there being no possible means by which the human can know the universe in its essence. Thus we are evolved from, embedded in, and defined by a reality that is radically different from our own, and moreover cannot ever be directly contacted in cognition.

    This double bind of modern consciousness has been recognized in one form or another at least since Pascal: ‘I am terrified by the eternal silence of these infinite spaces.’ Our psychological and spiritual predispositions are absurdly at variance with the world revealed by our scientific method. We seem to receive two messages from our existential situation: on the one hand, strive, give oneself to the quest for meaning and spiritual fulfillment; but, on the other, know that the universe, of whose substance we are derived, is entirely indifferent to that quest, a soulless in character, and nullifying it is effects. We are at once aroused and crushed. For inexplicably, absurdly, the cosmos is inhuman, yet we are not. The situation is profoundly unintelligible.

    Now if we follow Bateson’s diagnosis, it should not be surprising what kinds of response the modern psyche has made to this situation as it attempts to escape the double bind’s inherent contradictions. Either the inner world or the outer world is distorted: inner feelings are repressed and denied, as in apathy and psychic numbing, or they are inflated in compensation, as in narcissism and egocentrism; or the outer world is slavishly submitted to as the only reality, or it is aggressively objectified and exploited. There is also the strategy of flight, through various kinds of escapism: compulsive economic consumption, absorption in the mass media, fad-ism, cults, ideologies, nationalistic fervor, alcohol, drugs. When avoidance mechanisms cannot be sustained, there is anxiety, paranoia, chronic hostility, a sense of helpless victimization. And at the extreme there are the full-blown psychopathological reactions of the schizophrenic: self-destructive violence, delusional states, catatonia, automatism, mania, nihilism. The modern knows each of these different reactions in various combinations and compromise formations, and its social and political life is notoriously so determined.

    Which is why a lot of people take Glenn Beck seriously and think Sarah Palin would make a heckava good president, and why George Bush got elected not once but twice, and why and how the entire country (almost) could be lied into a war (Iraq, why the Tea Party exists and gets more press than Obama. Remember Sinclair Lewis’s prophetic novel, “It Can’t Happen Here”? Of course it can. A lot of people earnestly and ardently and passionately believe a lot of scary stuff. The double-bind theory, as extended by Tarnas, offers a plausible explanation.


  2. Now that’s an odd coincidence (not) with both groups victimized yet unable to see how or why. Scratch that: follow the money, Zo.


  3. Good on ya, bitch! And I’m glad you’ve found Sheria, too. Now, it’s time to combine our voices, to organize and speak out as a sane counterpoint to the Tea Party, to reconvene the forces that got our President elected. What amazes me is that so many of the Cheney-funded T.P. Movement are as victimized by this Wall Street-induced recession as anyone, but they think that same market, less encumbered, will save them. It is the very height of hypocrisy to exploit their ignorance. Rather than wait for them to implode, I think it’s time we become vocal again…supporting and empowering Obama to fulfill his pledges.


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