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Powerlessness, Resentment, Longing and Rightwing Populism

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[An attempt to clarify some very general aspects, psycho-social contexts and motifs of right-wing populism as it has manifested across the advanced industrialised world for several decades starting with the end of the post-war boom in the mid-70s and now increasing again after the global financial crisis since 2008. Trump, Australian Hansonism, French National Front, British Brexit campaign, German AfD etc].

Powerlessness, Resentment, Longing: Thirty One Theses on Right-wing Populism

1. The fertile soil of all right-wing populism (RWP) and fascism everywhere is powerlessness.

2. RWP is the revolt of the marginalised and powerless ‘ordinary or little man’ (and woman) which, although it has the potential, has not yet become militant fascism.

3. RWP and its fascist potential always increase under worsening economic conditions when material standards of living decline and reasons and solutions are being sought.

4. The RWP revolt is ambiguous. Like fascism, it is an unstable amalgam of revolt and conformity, rebelliousness and belief in leaders/authority, left and right policies and resentments.

5. Like fascism, RWP is primarily about conscious and unconscious emotions rather than rational arguments and facts.

6. The core conscious emotion driving RWP and fascism is resentment, a chronic, oblique, clingy form of anger or rage.

7. Behind the resentment lie more painful, mostly suppressed and thus unconscious complexes of emotions like fear, status anxiety, a sense of injury, powerlessness, inferiority, a longing for recognition and dignity.

8. The resentment is a natural response to objective injury: the manual working class and lower middle class have seen their jobs, real incomes, lives and communities decimated by the unchained capitalist logic of free trade globalisation and rationalisation (neoliberalism).

9. Even before the neoliberal phase, this objective injury to the lives and identities of the working classes has always been a basic feature of industrial capitalism and its structural violence: powerlessness, non-recognition, ascribed inferiority and lower social status, others always calling the shots and thus a lack of real freedom to fulfil one’s potentials– all these have always been part of the ‘hidden injuries of class’ (Richard Sennett).

10. Post-war growth and affluence, the welfare state and the centrality of industrial production and unions compensated materially for this core psycho-spiritual injury, and now that these have gone too, the inherent resentment and anger have re-surfaced with a vengeance.

11. Resenting or hating the powerful elites who call the shots and do not fully recognise one as equal is thus also an attempt to preserve some dignity, sometimes the ‘only way to keep from committing psychological or spiritual suicide’, the mark of ‘inner potentialities for standing against his oppressors’ (Rollo May).

12. RWP however is a channelling of the natural resentment away from those responsible, i.e. the decision-making wealth and power elites, and towards powerless internal scapegoats or designated external enemies.

13. RWP is an emotional unwillingness and/or cognitive inability to face the truth of social power relationships. In the end, it is a mass affirmation of subservience and voluntary slavery.

14. RWP and fascist leaders are demagogues skilled at channelling and deflecting theses popular resentments, fears and prejudices towards various minority scapegoats, labour market competitors and designated external enemies. Stereotyping is the key technique.

15. RWP and fascist leaders can only be successful when their personality structures are the same as those of their mass followers: lower middle-class/parvenu, authoritarian, sado-masochist, narcissist. The spirit of a culture is set by that of the most powerful social groups (Wilhelm Reich).

16. RWP embeds left-wing social policies and criticisms (banks, free trade, globalisation, social welfare state, solidarity) in right-wing cultural framings (xenophobia and ethnic stereotyping, in-group nationalism, latent or overt racism, misogyny, homophobia). This is its strength and weakness.

17. Due to this inherent ambiguity, RWP, like fascism (and indeed all parliamentary politics), is radical opportunism. In opposition, the rebellious and left-wing aspect is sometimes predominant. In power, the naïve ‘leftish’ promises are never (and can never be) fulfilled, and the right-wing, more fascist, side inevitably becomes predominant.

18. This ambiguity is thus also a very modern combination of cynicism and naïveté (Erich Fromm) in both leaders and followers of RWP and fascism: one simultaneously believes both in nothing and in leaders and fairy tales.

19. The cynical/naïve average consciousness is also a result of the totalised ‘spectacle’ (Guy Debord), i.e. total media bombardment and ‘news’ or ‘politics’ as infotainment. Torrents of fragmented images and sound bites interspersed with ads help hinder any connecting-of-dots or structuring of meaning and this in turn leads to a cognitive and affective turning off or numbing, a loss of meaningful, active relationship to words and realities, a sense of increased powerlessness, to both a world-weary cynicism or indifference and a frightful naïveté. ‘Apathy and lack of feeling are also defences against anxiety’ (Rollo May).

20. The more helpless and powerless the individual feels, the more like a child, and thus the more he or she regresses and identifies with apparently strong leaders as father or mother figures and with the in-group or ersatz-family of their own ‘great’ nation, often as an ersatz-parental ‘father- or motherland’. The more traditional families and homes become insecure or dissolve, the more isolation and loneliness, perhaps the more need for the imaginary family of the nation and ‘secure homeland’, the more need to belong.

21. When the nation is seen in RWP fashion as ‘homeland’ or in-group ersatz-family, it automatically needs the foreigner and the out-group, the dark alien and ‘illegal other’, the mythic ‘bad guy’ to define itself. It needs exclusion, literal or figurative walls to keep them out, it needs violence of speech and deed.

22. The more powerless and inferior a person feels, the more he or she may compensate this weakness by striving for power over others to ‘prove’ his or her superiority. This may happen directly by becoming a bully or authoritarian leader, or vicariously by identifying with the ‘greatness’ of the in-group or nation (national narcissism). This ‘greatness’ may be perceived as having been lost or ‘insulted’ and in need of renewal by a strong leader.

23. Narcissism, whether individual or collective, is, paradoxically, an unconscious, admiration-seeking over-compensation for a sense of emptiness, inferiority, low self-esteem or even self-dislike, non-validation, fear of not really being loved, accepted, significant, for a sense of powerlessness. Modern celebrity culture and popular Facebook culture mirror each other, and both scream lack of individual autonomy, lack of strong identity, lack of love.

24. Narcissism and potential or actual violence are closely related: both express powerlessness, impotence, both are unconscious attempts to express that one is not inferior or marginal but significant and worthy of admiration, recognition, acceptance, dignity. This is the common subterranean psychological link between all sorts of public vandalism, mob violence, terrorism both right and left, male violence against women, pub brawls, the frequent working class male enthusiasm for joining the military or armed struggle and becoming an admired ‘warrior’.

25. Since RWP and the fascist threat are primarily not about facts and arguments but about conscious and unconscious emotions, fixations and deep unmet needs, neither mere rational talk about facts nor aggressive ‘anti-fa’ confrontation are solutions since both ignore these underlying emotions (often due to unconscious emotions of their own).

26. RWP and fascism cannot be overcome until their undergirding emotions (powerlessness, resentment, narcissism) and unmet needs (for recognition, significance, dignity, belonging) are accepted and validated. As in any psychotherapeutic process, only such validation can release anxious fixations and open up the possibility of more rational reflection and dialogue.

27. The best validation would be the overcoming of powerlessness and heteronomy in a ‘good society’: i.e. participatory democracy, worker self-management, generalized autonomy, a society in which there are no power elites but everyone is heard and everyone calls the shots.

28. ‘Not all live in the same Now’ (Ernst Bloch): RWP and fascism are expressions of older, pre-modern, pre-rational ways of thinking and identity-formation, namely tribal-national, ‘magic-mythic’ (Ken Wilber).

29. This magic-mythic, tribal-national stage of consciousness was totally adequate and thus valid as socially average consciousness in its pre-industrial/industrial time. It now, however, lags behind the objective development towards one globalised, ‘post-industrial’ world and the concomitant need for a rational, world-centric level of consciousness to become predominant average consciousness within the next world-civilisation stage of human evolution (or risk total collapse).

30. A ‘lifting’, developing and deepening of socially average consciousness does not mean the denial, dis-validation or suppressing of older forms of consciousness by higher, wider forms. That way lies elitist domination and authoritarian social pathology.

31. The way to the now needed, rational and world-centric One World consciousness also proceeds by preserving the positive aspects of all previous, pre-modern forms of consciousness, including that of RWP. Previously predominant, they now just become secondary to, and integrated within, the newly predominant stage of One World consciousness.


Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism (3rd edn 1942)
Erich Fromm, The Fear of Freedom (1943)
Ernst Bloch, Erbschaft dieser Zeit (1935)
Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself (1953)
T.W. Adorno and M. Horkheimer, Soziologische Exkurse (1956)
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (1967)
Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb, The Hidden Injuries of Class (1972)
Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995)

Discussion 26 Comments

  • Bat Chainpuller 15th Oct 2016

    Number 24 is a little, I don't know, out of kilter with the rest? At least it seems to me. A little less easy to just digest/accept as the others. Maybe even 23. Always get a little thingy with psychological stuff. Collective narcissism has a similar feel to it as collective ego to me. I have never really worked out what collective/group ego is. Always thought it was an individual thing. But what would "I" know. Perhaps " I" should ask the "collective" and see if it talks with one voice...in unison or harmony, dissonant or consonant, I don't mind, but at the very least, at the sane time (oh, hows that, I went to write 'same time' but I missed the 'm' and hit the 'n' instead...spooky).

    The rest seems pretty on the money. I think 27 is pretty right. At least then, any lingering psychological stuff/problems could be dealt with purely, as they may be less likely to have causes in economic hardship. Something like that.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Oct 2016

      Thanks Bat, Lycan, Lazy, Jimmy the Impro-Cricket etc. Dunno if second sentence in 22 on 'national narcissism' might help with what you ask about 'collective narcissism' (didn't use' collective ego'). Weak (narcissist) ego, insecure identity, threatened sense of identity needs strong flag/leader/in-group to shore up weak ego, my country right or wrong, is the greatest on earth, we are the best, strongest, fairest bla bla, and we are under threat by internal and external 'bad guys'. Along with the listed Old Left thinkers who themselves experienced Old Fascism and the weakness of Old Anti-fascism, think this notion still important for understanding potential mass fascism today, and finding forms of resistance beyond the old self-escalating vicious cycles of fascism/anti-fascism that often feed off each other.

    • Bat Chainpuller 16th Oct 2016

      Yeah, I know you didn't reference collective ego. I reckon I kind of know what you're getting at. 24 is just a little too omplex for me. I understand too, you are not being definitive. But I don't understand things like weak ego. Nor that weak ego would be narcisist. Sounds like splitting hairs I know, but Zi don't find that stuff, well, helpful.

      Like public vandalism may be a form of p2p behaviour! The working class "enthusiasm" for joining the military may be just, getting a job. I understand the idea of trying to find new forms to confront old problems, it's just the psychological reasoning can often be confusing or obscure in meaning. It often feels like solutions can only really be sort by consulting those who understand these psychological terms and their complexity. But things like collective narcissism kind of generalises or averages something out among groups, when each individual will be psychologically complex and unique. A self-centered person I understand. I can understand peoplecrallying around certain types. I'm just not sure about their particular psychological state nor reasoning, unless I talk to them.

      I'm not trying to be difficult here. I actually enjoying the conversation. Perhaps I am exhibiting narcistic behaviour (joke)!

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 18th Oct 2016

      Thanks, Batty. re: "But things like collective narcissism kind of generalises or averages something out among groups, when each individual will be psychologically complex and unique."

      Yep, precisely. This is just the diff between two different classes of phenomena, 'society' (e.g. one aspect of which possibly being 'collective narcissism') and 'individual'. Thus also the diff between sociology, social psychology, ANY sort of social theory on the one hand, and the concrete reality of specific individuals I experience in the here and now, on the other. The two levels can't be reduced to each other, so I'm not saying they should be.

      Unless you take a very radical individualist-atomistic view like Margaret Thatcher ('there is no such thing as society', i.e. there are only individuals, also the position of individual anarchism deriving from Max Stirner BTW), then you accept there are such strange seemingly abstract entities like 'society' or 'group' or 'class' or 'structure' or 'system' or 'collective narcissism' or 'the economy' or 'participatory democracy' etc, all of which cannot be reduced to simple aggregations of individuals nor directly seen, but which are very 'real' nevertheless and which have their own structures and dynamics which are different from those of individuals.

      I guess most of us would agree that you can't understand humans by just looking at the atoms and molecules that make them up, nor groups, classes, societies by the individuals that make them up. Those higher-level social categories or phenomena are all sociology, social theory political economy, social psychology etc try to describe and understand, often with a view to informing political policy and action. And that's all my little blog on populism is trying to do.

      Vice versa, I'm thus completely agreeing with you: it's always a big category error to try and reduce any specific individual to any abstract, higher-order category like 'class' or 'race' or 'nationality' or 'religion' (Mr Kitteh has provided a lovely example of that in his rather resentful response).

    • Bat Chainpuller 20th Oct 2016

      I'm still not cinvinced an abstract entity, particularly a group of some sort, can be narcissistic. I can understand someone saying that it appears that way, but to me that doesn't mean much. Like a pelaton in a bike race from above looks like a worm, but it isn't. An illussion in a sense. Like anthropomorphising a dog. Corporate responsibilty. But only an individual can actually be narcissistic. In the same sense that ego is only an individual thing.

      Can you reduce something to a higher order category?

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Oct 2016

      Wikipedia defines “collective narcissism” as “a type of narcissism where an individual has an inflated self-love of his or her own ingroup”. So in this definition the narcissism is exhibited by an individual but oriented towards a collective. And then it can of course be a widely shared characteristic of the individuals making up the collective, so that members lacking this inflated love become social outcasts within the group.

    • Bat Chainpuller 21st Oct 2016

      So collective narcissism is just a group of individual narcissists hanging around with one another.

      Look, I understand the notion but I just don't find it helpful. I understand people, individuals feeling powerless, pissed off, angry, frustrated, anxious, stressed...all that stuff. I can understand people gravitating to others who exhibit the same feelings. I can understand those feeling better about being part of a group of like minded others. I can understand individuals being or exhibiting self centredness, self love of varying degrees. I can understand a cheer squad for a football team exhibiting hatred toward the opposition. I can understand sometimes shit getting out of hand when opposing forces face off and someone does something that enrages someone from the opposition and wham...it's on for young and old. I can understand people feeling helpless...I can understand how society's institutional structures can create or exacerbate these feelings that can drive people to all kinds of places. I can understand anti-fascists, not seeking out violent confrontation, but confronting, head on, the "enemy".

      Collective narcissism? Don't know. Lots of narcissists hanging out together is a group of narcissists not collective narcissism. Groups can't be narcissistic. Only individuals and to varying degrees. Knowing who's got an "inflated" love of the in group is problematic...a guess at best, I guess.

      I think I will always be dubious about psychological stuff, like I am about "spiritual" esoteric stuff, as a means or way of understanding or improving behaviour unless the individuals are spoken to individually. No point speaking to a group. They won't talk spontaneously on unison. Everyone outside can guess and have a shot at describing the reasons for people behaving the way they do, but it's guess at best.

      Ok, Wikipedia has a definition and maybe it has its uses and serves some purpose, but to me it's more a complication, in much the same way that introducing "spiritual" aspects or notions into revolutionary action is problematic to me rather than helpful. More likely to cause shit than solve it.

      Am I being difficult, splitting hairs? I don't think so, just going with my gut, whatever that is. Perhaps there's a psychological term for my behaviour here that explains what I am really doing and why. Some unconscious repressed something that makes me doubt things of the psycho world I find so often tenuous.

      Like the more I read this,

      "Modern celebrity culture and popular Facebook culture mirror each other, and both scream lack of individual autonomy, lack of strong identity, lack of love."

      ...the more I have a problem with it. I just don't buy it. It may be true for some folk, or maybe it's a bunch of others setting themselves apart from this other perceived group over there, immersed in modern celebrity culture and popular facebook and boxing them up neatly as those who lack stuff like, a strong identity, love and individual autonomy. Poor souls! Maybe they just dig celebrity culture and facebook.

      Like as I also said in another comment, I do not understand what pre-rational ways of thinking are. I can understand thinking could be described as non linear in nature, like the way a thought appears out of nowhere, often spontaneously, and the only way it can be communicated to someone else is through some externalisation method like writing or talking, which is linear in nature, or at least very different, and always after the fact, like someone retrieving a dream, and that in that process something often seems to get lost as if the externalisation just isn't up to the task of communicating a thought faithfully. Let alone the other person understanding what's being communicated. What's pre-rational thinking? Emotional thinking. Erratic irrational nonsense thinking? Feeling thinking? Gut thinking?

      I must admit, i would struggle with the literature listed. Even Debord did my head in. He could have just said something like the spectacle is a real fucker you know and left it at that. Adorno's just too difficult. Still haven't tried Fromm. It all may be interesting to read, entertaining even, bit it often gets so complicated and difficult to understand I feel like any assumption towards understanding on my part is a guess at best. So maybe a bias towards doubting it develops? What is wrong with me????

      Perhaps I should just stick to Wikipedia and leave it all there. But where's the fun in that?

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Oct 2016

      A bunch of narcissists that happen to hang out together need not display group narcissism. If each of them has an undeservedly high opinion of themselves but not of the group as a whole, it is just plain individual narcissism.

      Conversely, the people in some group may not think highly of themselves individually, and yet be convinced the collective to which they belong is vastly superior to other groups. Think of football fans. If their belief in the collective’s superiority has no basis in the facts, you can call it collective narcissism. Yet the individuals comprising the group are not narcissistic in the ordinary sense.

    • Bat Chainpuller 21st Oct 2016

      Yeah, thought of that one. Group delusion perhaps, seeing as it isn't based in facts and they got their arses whooped by the opposition who were in fact, superior. An over estimation perhaps. Usually a belief their team is superior really, not themselves, and usually rooted in some knowledge, but if not, most of the individuals "know" it is bluster. But the "collectve" diesn't know shit. Only the individuals.

      Know what you are getting at. White supremacists. A group of people who believe they are better, some set of reasoning going on, thoughts, arguments in their heads, all getting together. A show of strength. Togetherness. But the narcissism isn't really applicable to the group it can only be found within the individuals, surely.

    • Lambert Meertens 21st Oct 2016

      Quote from Bat Chainpuller:

       "I don't think so, just going with my gut, whatever that is."

      Typical pre-rational way of thinking that lags behind the need for a rational, world-centric level of consciousness.

    • Bat Chainpuller 21st Oct 2016

      Oh, it doesn't lag by any means. It's right up front there, this little "pre-rational" way of thinking. And I like it, except when my gut feels a little off due to something I ate the night before, like this morning...,hang on...shit...be back in a minute....

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 27th Oct 2016

      G'day cobber. Sorry you're not finding this blog useful in framing right-wing populism. C'est la vie, we all got different perspectives and resonances, all partially right no doubt...

      Re 'pre-rational'. In terms of cultures and societies, the term's a bit like pre-modern (versus modern versus post-modern) or pre-industrial (versus industrial versus post-industrial) or pre-capitalist (versus capitalist versus post-capitalist). Big abstractions, aggregating theoretical categories, no doubt, but maybe useful for understanding some abstract but real social phenomena like 'cultural lag'. An example of 'pre-rational' thinking might be that about half (or more?) of polled US people apparently believe in Biblical creationism over scientific-rational evidence of evolution. (That 'pre-rational' is ambiguous like everything else in the known universe, e.g. 'rational' or 'transrational', goes without saying and is also something I tried to say in the blog. E.g. no individual creativity whatsoever without its fertile ground...childhood, dreams, daydreams, the unconscious etc)

      Just by way of clarification, context, historical background to my blog. As the lit list indicates, I relied a lot on notions developed by German leftist thinkers after 1933 trying to reflect on the catastrophic European working class defeats post-1918 that resulted in the victories of fascism and the Gulag. Their efforts (aka known as 'Western Marxism')necessarily focussed on the subjective, socio-psychological side of things, using psychoanalysis to try and make sense of the mass appeal of the right and fascism, an appeal that can never be explained by Marxism's exclusive focus on the economy. Ernst Bloch, member of the CP BTW, once remarked on how he attended a mass rally in Berlin before Hitler came to power. After the Communist spoke about the economy, stats, numbers,bla bla, there was polite applause. After the Nazi party member spoke about 'higher destiny' bla bla the audience rose to its feet in tumultuous applause. He went on to develop an interesting theory of internal cultural lags, dis-synchronous levels and stages of being present in everyone, and how the left should try and accommodate such differing levels...

      I'd say the same still goes today: how to understand the mass appeal of the right to the poor and marginalised and de-industrialised and 'emasculated' (via feminisation of workforce and general culture), how to intelligently resist the possibility of new forms of fascism which might very well be emerging ever more strongly as global crises mount?

      Hope that helps contextualise a bit more.

    • Bat Chainpuller 28th Oct 2016

      No, not totally true Peter. I tend toward agreement. But not being the reader you are and have been, my knowledge of certain particulars lags (as opposed to my "pre-rational" side) and your explanations certainly do help to contextualise.

      I must say, or admit, I do like to question the odd thing here and there, as much out of curiosity and to understand as for a bit of fun and discussion. My feeling is that pre-rational is just a strange concept and not really like those other examples that you give - pre-industrial, pre-modern or pre-capitalist.

      I mean Chomsky, the arch rationalist, would probably say that religious belief is irrational rather than pre. I'm personally uncertain whether both are in fact correct or appropriate, but I get your drift, and Chomsky's, and understand how beliefs like that could be "dangerous", as Chomsky has said.

      I agree as to things being ambiguous. But I would say "pre-rational" and certainly "translational" are more so. And I do declare my reluctance to accept or wariness of psychoanalytical approaches to things, akin to my attitude toward the word spiritual. Even though I have myself wondered why people behave the way they do, and subjected myself to psychoanalytical therapy for several years. In much the same way I practised Tibetan Buddhism for a number of years.

      I guess really I'm just after discussion and conversation more than anything else. I agreed with most of the blog but took issue with some particulars. It's good. I display the depth of my ignorance, my Hitchenesque desire for a bit of argument and learn a bit more in the process.

  • “[N]either mere rational talk about facts nor aggressive ‘anti-fa’ confrontation are solutions since both ignore these underlying emotions (often due to unconscious emotions of their own).”

    Do you even left wing? No one involved in antifascist action believes that community self-defence—and that’s what it is, read it again: ‘community self-defence’—is a ‘solution’ in and of itself. It is an indispensable part of the solution. Should we put out spot fires? Sure, if we can, cause those things could start an inferno. Will putting out a spot fire change the conditions that caused it? Of course not, nobody thinks that, that’s another set of things that have to be done. What’s a bet you’re a white? I’ll go on. I wonder if you not having to suffer the brunt of racist terror and violence, being targeted by fascists, has anything to do with your spitting on—or at least misrepresenting—those willing to carry the can when avowed fascists—read: perpetrators of violence, advocates of genocide—roll into town? And what of the historical fact that the growth of fascism is absolutely dependent on its ability to march and rally? Maybe you don’t oppose antifascist action—if so, good, glad you have basic regard for people’s safety.

    Another angle. How are you managing to discuss fascism without reference to the daily harassment, violence, and murder perpetrated by police forces? Do you not think the 2005 FBI warning about white supremacist entryism into the US military and law enforcement is noteworthy? You’re from a country that runs concentration camps, ffs.

    The rise of fascism is dependent upon (white, middle class) liberal pacifism that think more discourse, and advocating for social movements that don’t even exist, and of course suppressing the efforts that empower communities to ward off its worst excesses, are the best way to defeat it.

    From one of Hitler’s own speeches: ‘And so, I established in 1919 a programme and tendency that was a conscious slap in the face of the democratic-pacifist world (…) [We knew] it might take five or ten or twenty years, yet gradually an authoritarian state arose within the democratic state, and a nucleus of fanatical devotion and ruthless determination formed in a wretched world that lacked basic convictions.

    Only one danger could have jeopardised this development – if our adversaries had understood its principle, established a clear understanding of our ideas, and not offered any resistance. Or, alternatively, if they had from the first day annihilated with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement.’

    And… I gotta do this, so you see:

    “24. Narcissism and potential or actual philosophical pretensions are closely related: both express powerlessness, impotence, both are unconscious attempts to express that one is not inferior or marginal but significant and worthy of admiration, recognition, acceptance, dignity. This is the common subterranean psychological link between all sorts of public speech, university lectures, intellectual vanguardism both right and left, mansplaining, pub debates, the frequent professional class enthusiasm for attending book launches or getting published and becoming an admired ‘thinker’.”

    “[N]either mere rational talk about facts nor pretentious theoretical diatribes are solutions since both ignore these underlying emotions (often due to unconscious emotions of their own).” Cheap, ain’t it? Mm.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 16th Oct 2016

    Dear Mr Kitteh, thank you for your comments. You seem to be very angry. I think I understand where you are coming from, but I do not have the time or wish to engage in personal attacks as you do here. I think these create a very bad vibe for anyone still reading things at IOPS, a vibe all too common on the left as much as on the right, and a vibe that deflects from the factual political issues. I have simply tried to address these important issues from a certain sociological, social-psychological perspective that you apparently do not agree with, and that's fine.

  • Bat Chainpuller 16th Oct 2016

    28 is starting to confuse me as well now. I'm really not sure I understand the notion of pre-rational. If 29 says the magic mythic was perfectly adequate for its time, then I assume it was perfectly rational behaviour: the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) harassing and attacking the Wendats (Huron) to the point of catastrophe and demise.

    I also wonder whether we can sometimes over complicate things to the point where one starts to second guess oneself constantly (like I do, even with this comment. Is that rational?), questioning initial interpretations or understandings of things, like the above blog, and feeling like they shouldn't even enter the conversation due to lack of knowledge!

    Angry confrontation is a fact of life, not just something on the left and right of politics. As unattractive as it appears when it happens, it happens. One can speculate as to the underlying psychological triggers but so often, like talking to heavy duty Marxists, these conversations lead to confusing verbal and intellectual labyrinths that drive most, well, for want of a better word, but probably appropriate to this discussion, insane.

    Did Barry Hall really mean to actually knock Staker out? Or was it just an unlucky punch, for both parties?

    There will no doubt, whether some like it or not, always be those willing to take on some oppositional force on the front line. To cut them off at the pass so to speak. Willing to take a hit for the greater good. Is it wrong or right? Argue away, but it will occur. The women in Rojava fight. The Zapatistas fought. The anti-racist and civil rights movement had its moments, with the "law" and white supremacists. Who throws the first punch or kick? Who knows? Who whacks the white supremacist arsehole with their umbrella or handbag in a moment of rage?

    The real issue is, what do we have in terms of real institutional alternatives and appropriate transitional strategies, in other words, real substance, to present against the present and prevailing bullshit paradigm that feeds anxiety and stress and unhappiness, after the "fighting" dies down and the smoke dissipates? Getting all thingy about why people get angry and then violent often just takes everyone's focus away from what needs to be done (shit, ain't that a worn out phrase? Blimey, when did Lenin say that? What's the date now? How much time do we have? Zero net emissions by 2025? Are you serious? Fuck!), and the ruling classes like that.

  • Rod 16th Oct 2016

    Thanks Peter, interesting blog. A lot to digest.

    A more holistic view on the world and oneself in it as expressed by your phrase 'One World conciousness' seems to be a key ingredient in overcoming the desire for and fear of power. That still leaves the hard question open of how to grow that kind of conciousness.

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 18th Oct 2016

    Thanks, Rod, appreciated. Yep, who knows, maybe IOPS could be a very modest contribution among many to the further development of One World Consciousness. Just by facilitating some form of global dialogue, for example. Has always been my hope, anyway.

  • Lambert Meertens 21st Oct 2016

    Somehow I think that behind the resentment there is a sense of feeling betrayed and abandoned – a feeling that may be not entirely without factual basis even as the blame is misdirected.

    • Peter Lach-Newinsky 26th Oct 2016

      Yep, glad we agree, Lambert (cf. 'objective injury' and 'structural violence', 8 and 9 above).

  • Bat Chainpuller 23rd Oct 2016

    On way home from a chat with a good friend, member of the anti-fa movement here in Melbourne. Short one. Not much time. Listening to Jonnie Von Goes Radio Method, 3RRR, (http://www.rrr.org.au/presenter/jonnie-von-goes/), and he plays this. Got me to a thinking how disconnected we all are. Really. Miss me wife too. Can't sleep. She's up in sunny Tewantin visiting her mum.

    Perhaps we're all a little lonely!

  • Bat Chainpuller 28th Oct 2016

    Thinking about right wing populism and the rise of fascism I read some Joe Bageant who spent much of his life trying to understand rednecks and why they often believe in and support shit that, well, in the end, just fucked them over more. He never really came up with an answer. See Deer Hunting With Jesus.


    But when you read things like this,


    you start to wonder.

    Great turn of phrase. Easy to read, sharp, funny, with just the right amount of cynicism any Zappa fan could ask for. But to what end? Like George Carlin's sharp don't mess with me pokes, jabs and fucking hard punches at everything humans are great at - fucking things up - one is left with nothing really. A feeling of emptiness. Bageant and Carlin, even Zappa and others, can often leave you feeling like you are as sharp as they, as you laughed and nodded in all the right places. That's part of the attraction. But so fucking what? Now what do ya do? You go back to work and talk about, read and watch the same shit everyone else does and is. Why? Because the sun comes up and there are only so many hours before it goes down again and there is shit to do before you can get to that part where you can actually enjoy yourself. That is if you even ever get to it.

    The thing is they never offer anything as a positive alternative. They have nothing. They actually think humans are flawed, fucked, stupid, dumb all over. They possess wonderful qualities that produce and create wonderful things, moments and times, but they are essentially flawed, fucked, stupid and dumb all over. So they stop at the observational level, the descriptive level. They refuse to entertain solutions because solutions entertain the end of the entertainment that makes for a good show before you cark it!

    We can speculate and speculate and speculate some more as to why people behave they way they do. But I have never been a fan of constant speculation. I mean there is a branch of philosophy that calls itself speculative realism for lucks sake! It's fun to do, but too much leaves you feeling like a clever little smart arse with no direction home (yeah, Bageant and so many quote Bob, so why not?).

    This is why number 27 remains the key to it all. This is why, to me, Parecon is still the most rich of all visions/models. This is why discussions around vision and connecting strategy are of the essence of the problem and offer more than speculative whys. This is why debates about the pros and cons of p2p, voluntary simplicity, community economics, Inclusive Democracy, Parecon, robots, future technology and basic incomes are paramount.

    Otherwise it's all just speculative blogs and cynicism, or sharp witty, sincere, intellectual, esoteric, and sometimes insightful probes into history, what we have apparently lost along the way, and the psycho-social reasons for why things are they way they are, why we're in the shit and what we all "spiritually" need. All interesting and wonderfully entertaining yet...

    Another Street anti-cap essay, another Chomskian insight, another blog, another esoteric "spiritual" calling, that continue to leave me in nowhere land.

    I continue to say to Jason Chaplin, my friendly coffee drinking cohort with his fingers in local activist goings on,

    "All I got is Parecon. I got nothing else."

    Maybe I'm fucked up. A useless idiot not prepared to get his hands dirty. But it's more than Bageant, Carlin or Zappa had.

    Number 27 is the key. Everything else is just fucking entertainment.l

  • Lambert Meertens 30th Oct 2016

    Sure, 27 is important, but isn’t number 31 also important? Lefties feeling superior to and looking down at rednecks are accessories to their exclusion from “civilized” society but are stupid themselves if they can’t see how the system fucks with them just as hard.

    We can’t show the macroeconomic side of Parecon in action (decentralized negotiation of inputs and outputs), but we can show self-managed cooperatives as inspiring examples of what is possible already now.

    In the context of this blog post, Michael Moore’s “surprise” film Trumpland is of interest (1:11:23):

  • Bat Chainpuller 31st Oct 2016

    Yeah, ok, 31's important, but, I don't know. I find It a nice sentiment but how do we achieve this notion of preserving the positive aspects of premodern forms of consciousness? 27 is the key to 31, at least to me, but requires considerable elucidating. Maybe "We can’t show the macroeconomic side of Parecon in action (decentralized negotiation of inputs and outputs)", but we can still discuss it, without assuming it infeasible and brushing it aside, in conjunction with the been-around-for-quite-a-while cooperative workplace arrangements happening now. Beng inspired by solidarity economics, community economics, p2p, voluntary simplicity, Inclusive Democracy, if that's what inspires you, and recognising the inherent limitations of them all, what they need, and trying to integrate them all with other inspiring visions like Parecon.

    Bageant certainly did not look down on rednecks. He was of or from such stock. He just, like most, had no solutions to the current system malaise. But there is that feeling of "superiority", that does come across, of being separate from the wretched, outside looking in, as certain folk analyse and judge our society and its actors, as do Bageant, Carlin and Zappa (was Frank a leftie? Questionable. I'd say not.), along with many others. Comes with the territory in a sense.

    Will check the film out.

  • Bat Chainpuller 31st Oct 2016

    Not sure really what I am supposed to take from Moore's little offering. Not completely certain what he was trying to achieve. But again, lots of hand clapping and nodding. Always wary of politics and comedy. English comedian Stewart Lee does it best for me. Moore's The Awful Truth was great and he provides useful insight but beyond that, I'm not sure. All part of the process I guess. Is that a wig under that cap? If not, does he colour his hair? And if so, what the fuck for?