Saturday, January 25, 2020

Week 39: Projection

Long before Sigmund Freud conceptualized the psychological defense mechanism of projection, in which an individual denies qualities (and these qualities may be good or bad) in himself or herself and ascribes those qualities to others, Gloucester said to King Henry VI, in Shakespeare’s play accordingly named, “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.” A millennium earlier, it was written in the Talmud, “Do not taunt your neighbor with the blemish you yourself have.”

One of the more troubling conditions in the practice of politics today, and I suspect since time immemorial, is the penchant politicians have for projection. It is not necessarily projection of their beliefs on another individual but on groups of individuals and on wide swaths of society. Social projection, if you will, is at the heart of what people call “fake news,” and it is at the very heights of the hypocrisy that plagues our political discourse.

As a lover of history, one may look deep into the past to find examples of projection. Take Nero and the great fire of Rome. He blamed the region’s Christians for the burning of Rome, which coincidentally cleared the land for his sprawling palace, the Domus Aurea. He almost certainly did not fiddle whilst Rome burned. However, most accounts, although they vary in their details, lay responsibility for the fire at the feet of Nero. We need not harken back to antiquity, though, to find examples of projection. Take two simple examples: racial discrimination and fiscal irresponsibility, and let us examine these as sort of societal projections, the left projecting on the right and vice versa.

The left of the political spectrum, the so-called progressives, accuse conservatives of being racist and discriminatory. If one examines the record of history, one readily discovers that it has been the political left that has espoused the worldview that people are different because of their race. The history of slavery in the United States is one distinguished by the Democrat party fighting in the halls of Congress to maintain that evil institution, denying equality and dignity to a major segment of the inhabitants of America, while the soldiers of the Confederacy fought for the same on the battlefields of the Civil War. The Jim Crow laws that followed the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment were promulgated by the progressive left. Opposition to the Civil Rights movement came from the same quarters. Since that time, the policies implemented by the left have resulted in systemic poverty, illiteracy, isolation and even death. The welfare system, which we will discuss in a future posting, has created multigenerational dependency upon the government for sustenance. The educational system, as we discussed in Week 49, fails the very people who need quality education the most. Through these two areas of involvement by government, namely progressive government, in the lives of the people, those groups who were victimized in those days by Democrat policies continue to be marginalized today through the policies of the same. Equal Opportunity legislation is based on a philosophy that differences exist, institutionalizing the separation of one group of Americans from another. The healthcare system produces similar, disparate results – because of racist doctors and nurses? No. Because of the dependence created through a monopolistic government system.

Despite improving economic conditions of minorities in this nation under this administration, the left continues to brand the President and his followers as racists and their policies as discriminatory. Examine the record of history, and you will find that economic freedom, while not a singularly sufficient criterion, is indeed a necessary criterion for Liberty. Liberty, by definition, is “the quality or state of being free: freedom from arbitrary or despotic control” (Merriam-Webster). Look at the policies of the left and the results of those policies. They limit individual Liberty in lieu of the nanny state of government intervention into individuals’ lives. You will find that conservativism promotes liberty, directly and indirectly, in very real terms, which the progressive left does not. Nevertheless, the progressives of the left, with all their breath, claim to fight for the rights of the oppressed, and they accuse the conservatives of the right as hating people on account of their color, gender, age and so on. Despite Saul Alinsky’s belief, repeating a claim over and over again, does not make it true.

It is so important, at this point, that I make something perfectly clear. I do not believe citizens, who align themselves with the Democrat party, are bad people. I do not believe they, as a political group, have racism and bigotry in their hearts. Nor do I believe that those, who align with the Republican party, as a political group, have racism and bigotry in their hearts. To be sure, there are bad apples in every bunch – people with evil intent in their hearts, regardless of political or any other type of affiliation. I do believe, though, that those in power see hatred and fear of one group for another as a means for maintaining their power. As we will see, it is not just the political class of the left whose lust for power damns the American people to despotism and servitude. The political class of the right is guilty, too.

Those on the right of the political spectrum, the so-called conservatives, accuse those on the left of creating a tax and spend regime, characteristic of a socialist state; socialism being utterly antithetical to the principles upon which our nation was established. While massive expansion of the government and government spending became vogue under the New Deal and the Great Society, conservatives of the past 30 years or so have demonstrated no interest to reign in spending, which is an essential side of the balance sheet. Tax cuts are wonderful, as they permit citizens to keep the money they earned, be it money earned through the work of their own hands or through the risk assumed by investing capital in the work of others. As mentioned above, there are two sides to a balance sheet, and both must work harmoniously together to produce good results. Low tax rates and the revenues they generate are for naught, if the government’s spending is completely and totally out of control. There is little difference today between the left and right in terms of government spending; yet, the conservatives of the right decry the spending of the left and the peril in which our deficits and our debt place this and future generations. The peril is real indeed, yet under what was legislative and executive control of our government in the first two years of the present administration, our deficits and debt grew at a sickening pace. They continue to grow, and We the People, continue to be nauseated, or at least we should be!

As discussed above, a lack of economic freedom makes Liberty an impossibility. It creates a form of economic servitude, subjugating citizens to those in power, which ultimately leads to a loss of Liberty. Without Liberty, we are, all of us not in the political class, slaves to a despotic government. The right – the so-called conservatives – would have us believe that economic tyranny is a thing of the left. No more! They are equally laden with blame for the economic shackles that bind each citizen and diminish their Liberty.

In the months ahead, please do not take any slander, be it from the left or from the right, at face value. Take the time to explore the history and the philosophy that have formed each perception or misperception, each claim or false claim, each truth or each lie. Remember your Shakespeare and guard your mind from the suspicion and guilt of others, particularly those who desire to rule you and your fellow citizens.

  Day 1: Vote your conscience   Over the past month, social media posts, tweets, chats, etc. have been replete with “vote as if…” admonition...