We have made a profound philosophical shift, and not a good one. It’s a shame to have lost so much of Freud in the great transition of psychiatry from convoluted theory to receptor affinities. Freud posited that we arose in the world of yearning for wish-fulfillment, and ideally matured and shifted to acceptance of reality, and changing reality by honest effort. Freud was rather wise; the Freudians were usually fools.
Early on, we live in a world of fantasy; we imagine what we want, and sometimes do get it. If ugly reality intrudes, we withdraw into our well-organized but unreal world, trusting in magical solutions for unfulfilled wishes.
Coming to reality is a humbling experience. Things simply are. One can take a cynical posture and disengage from the troublesome aspects of the world, and be a hermit, or one can take logical approaches to change reality to a better form.
I see a great deal of liberalism lost in the childhood of wish fulfillment. It is inarguable that we should live in a day-to-day world with no threat of physical harm or violence. That is a noble goal to reach towards by all people, no matter what their psychological maturity is.
But I see so much fantasy and so literal engagement with reality on the Left. I do not see any better on the Right; but the Left, asserting more progressive beliefs, seems more earnest and energetic in the mass of things which it wants to change.
The ACLU, after reforms of 40 years ago decrowding prisons, and placing prisoners in solitary single cells, now rages over the isolation and impersonality of the very action their injunctions forced. They have properly considered the harm of isolation as a type of punishment. However, when dealing with admittedly bad-behaving people, they themselves may not wish intimate contact with a residential partner who could represent a physical threat of harm to themselves.
No matter! The ACLU is not asking – how can we do better for incarcerated persons? for that is an excellent and fair goal. Instead, they focus on the fantasy, chock-full with imaginary straw-men and straw-women behind bars, and incur their fantasies upon the reality of the situation. This actually leads to harm and injury of the population which they study.
Ideological Communism, like ideological Nazism and other ideologies, demands that one blurs any concepts of reality derived from sensate experience, and allows one to be viciously cruel to people in reality, as long as the proper ideological fantasy is fulfilled.
Here are factcheck that the presidential candidates have offered in 2016. But it’s been a slowly-growing wave since the harsh reversals of wishful thinking under Richard Nixon. Just because he wished it to be true, did not make it so.
But by Ronald Reagan’s days – thirty-five years ago – people shifted strongly towards favoring the type of politician who made them feel happier and more comfortable when his face appeared on the TV screen.
The benighted Walter Mondale discovered that his ads that showed friendly pictures of Reagan, ironically overlain by his mistakes and failures, caused the audience to feel better about Reagan and their wish to vote for him increased. For many years, words have not provided the impact in politics that pictures do.
I am a photographer; I love the visual image. But it does not suffice to inform people sufficiently to choose the leader of the Republic.
“In spite of the wildly speculative and false stories of arms for hostages and alleged ransom payments, we did not—repeat, did not—trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we.”
“A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.”
Mr. Reagan reached critical mass in returning to the happiness of feelings, rather than the harshness of reality. Lying becomes a harmless symptom of exuberance and single-mindedness; reality becomes what one’s heart yearns for in the perfect world.
It’s the triumph of Romanticism over Reason. The only tyrants we should scold are the ones who have a conscience – who believe in their own wickedness. Those like Hitler and Rosenberg, who lived amongst stirring emotions to bring humanity to its pinnacle by bringing about the master race – how can we criticise them, if everyone’s reality is equally acceptable?
That is why we are not just having a down-turn in American culture, but have passed the threshold for collapse without turning back. Unless we dare to sustain the humbling nature of reason in our lives, we will Make America Great again, and greater and greater; all the while, our people become poorer and more miserable. It can be done; in fact it is what is usually done in the twilight of empire.