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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

MASKS of money, faith, intellect and entitlement defame us individually and culturally

Chris Hedges writes a scathing indictment of the uber-rich in his latest column in truthdig.com. Referencing Aristotle, Hedges predicts that when the uber-rich gain control, either tyranny or revolution are the only options remaining.

Citing his experience as a scholarship student from the ages of ten through eighteen to a private New England school for the uber-rich, Hedges points to the blind insouciance of the ‘breed’ to the pain of any other, locked as they are in the bubble of their own narcissism. “What’s in it for me?” for them is not merely a selfish slogan, but a guiding principle in any and all relationships. Evidencing the trump administration’s gutting of all government programs than support and give hope to those in the ghetto’s, while padding the pockets of their uber-rich clones, Hedges convincingly trumpets the consciousness-raising cry for the rest of us to “wake up” before it is too late.

Excess wealth clearly does have a profound impact on the degree of entitlement that is the birthright of the uber-rich. Power, status, privilege and superiority are the traits emblazoned on their social and political DNA, and by inference, those incarnated traits render all others as worker drones in the service of this super class. This class does no wrong, in its own mind, as that would be incongruent  their in light of their impenetrable mask of perfection, a mask embedded in the consciousness of their families, their colleagues, and their inherited status.

And while Hedges’ critique is socially, politically, intellectually and culturally valid and appropriate, there is a wider application of the notion of superiority. Such self-applied diagnosis as special and superior is not applicable only to the uber-rich; it also applies to those who consider themselves “chosen by God” as the “saved” and thereby the exclusive inheritors of the ‘Kingdom of God” in their vision of a promised after-life. Of course, the marriage of the uber-rich and the ultra-righteous inflicts an almost unstoppable political force dedicated to the achievement of goals including the absolute control of the U.S. Supreme Court. And through that tactic, they will extend their control into the demise, whether incrementally or by a single axe-stroke, of Roe v Wade, the construction of a legal and impenetrable moat around the RNA’s power over the right to carry arms, to inflict arms on schools, public offices and even private pockets and glove boxes. They will also vote for all tax measures that build the nuclear arsenal of the United States, as their black-and-white perception of their own “morally superior and absolutely correct” vision of the universe inhabited by their “own kind” of superior species, and the rest of us. They will also chant choruses of laud and honour whenever their cult leader trump demonizes his political opponents as dangerous, morally corrupt, hypocritical, and a “mob”….the very description that they themselves can only find, of themselves, if they were ever to stoop so low as to peer into their own mirror.

“Projection” is an unconscious psychological phenomenon that paints the other with the brush and colour of the self that is so intolerable that they cannot bear its pain. If I hate myself, I project that self-loathing onto whomever I can find who seems to merit that self-loathing. If I lie and deceive, I project that trait onto my opponents in the faux belief, perception or conviction that I might thereby shed all responsibility for my own lies and deception.

The capacity to see ourselves fully, honestly and caringly is, if not thwarted, at least partially blocked by our own Shadow. And the mask we build, grow, learn, practice and permit others to see only impedes our capacity to be honest and open to our own darknesses. It is the degree to which we are open to investigating and accepting and then peeling off layers of our own Shadow that permits and enhances our growth and maturity into an authentic individual self. Social insults that cut deeply, with or without obvious intent on the part of the initiator, bring us face to face with our own Shadow. “Why does that statement, criticism, question hurt so much, when the person uttering it has not demonstrated such an attitude or belief previously?” “What is it about me that makes that “X” factor so toxic, debilitating, infuriating and provocative of anger, revenge and hurtfulness?”

In a world in which only a “perfect” Mask (Persona) is acceptable, of course, the power of the Shadow only grows exponentially, given the high degree of repression to which it is subjected. And when the Mask of the political theatre actors, on all sides, becomes the dominant voice, without tolerance for the pause and the self-reflection needed to peel the Shadow’s layers to expose what is really going on, then there is another iteration of a shouting match of the Mask. Masks, by their nature, serve to protect and to cover up the fears, insecurities and the blindnesses we all have. And whether those Masks are constructed of truck-loads of cash and dividends, an absolute conviction of faith in one’s own moral purity or perfection, some kind of “star” heroism and the concomitant adulation, or a belief in the superiority of one’s family, heritage, legacy and “identity”….they are all part of a psychological dynamic which, given the current cultural ethos in North America, demeans self-critical examination, acceptance of responsibility, collaboration and compassion in favour of narcissistic “transactionalism”. Nationalism, and infantilism, cover-ups and deceptions of everything that spells trouble and denials of painful reality are all exposed as willing symptoms of the obsession deference to the public appearance of perfection.

It is at the altar of absolute perfection (The MASK) that this cultural epoch is worshipping. And the high priests of the new religion are, at this moment, stampeding the trading floors in Wall Street, grabbing the microphones and cameras of the networks, pulling the political balance from the middle to the far right, closing the borders and the minds of their citizens to the plight of the truly endangered, sending dangerous packages to public figures as threats to their person, denying their complicity in the erosion of the planet’s climate norms, and busily counting their dividends in fossil fuel stocks.

The uber-rich need none of the supporting complicity of the religious right, the mega-corporations including the media, nor the elected political class. And the sooner the cabal of the current “power-addicts” is broken, (and only by ordinary people can or will that happen) the sooner will some semblance of accountability, integrity, authenticity and responsibility in the “public interest” return.

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