Part I of the Truth and Culture Warrior
The most common and most insidious mistake that civilized people make about Marxism, the “Social Justice” movement, Nazism and other totalitarian ideologies is the idea that the appeal for these ideologies is primarily economic and rational. This misperception leads to all sorts of missteps and failures in fighting the ideology, and vastly underestimates the danger of Totalitarian ideologies.
By treating these ideologies as rational economic and sociopolitical arguments, civilized people make the following mistakes.
- They believe that the totalitarians will see the error of their ways (this took 70 years in Russia)
- They believe that the contradictions in totalitarian ideologies will drive people away (did not happen in Russia, and is not happening with the left in great numbers today)
- They believe that totalitarians will fight amongst one another (they thought the Nazis could never ally with the Italians and Japanese, and who would have expected the Social Justice movement to have such a strong affinity for fundamentalist Islam).
- They believe that totalitarians are just mistaken, and not deliberately trying to infringe upon people’s rights for their own sake.
- They trust totalitarians and take them at their word on things.
Upon studying the matter more deeply, one comes to the realization that the roots of totalitarianism are not logical, economic, philosophical or political – they are psychological. Totalitarianism is primarily the product of the totalitarian personality, a psychological state that always exists, but arises in great numbers on the eve of a totalitarian revolution. As Carl Jung wrote:
To produce such consequences (totalitarianism) the individual must have been thoroughly indoctrinated with the insignificance and worthlessness of his psyche and of psychology in general. One must preach at him from all the pulpits of authority that salvation always comes from outside and that the meaning of his existence lies in the “community.” He can then be led docilely to the place where of his own natural accord he would rather go anyway: to the land of childhood, where one makes claims exclusively on others, and where, if wrong is done, it is always somebody else who has done it. When he no longer knows by what his soul is sustained, the potential of the unconscious is increased and takes the lead. Desirousness overpowers him, and illusory goals set up in the place of the eternal images excite his greed. The beast of prey seizes hold of him and soon makes him forget that he is a human being. His animal affects hamper any reflection that might stand in the way of his infantile wish-fulfilments, filling him instead with a feeling of a new-won right to existence and intoxicating him with the lust for booty and blood. – Carl Jung – Mysterium Conjunctionis
A Simple Explanation of the Totalitarian Personality
In other words, we can say that the totalitarian personality is first defined by a deep cynicism and contempt for ideas such as the idea of God, the transcendent, psychology and self improvement.
Having decided that only the material world is of any relevance, the soul (or unconscious mind) of the totalitarian is unable to find any solution to the spiritual pain of existence. Because of upbringing, indoctrination or neglect, the totalitarian suffers unbearable self-inflicted psychological pain, manifesting as feelings of guilt, anger, shame, and fear. But lacking any understanding of itself, or how to effectively treat psychological pain, the subconscious mind declares the outside world to be the source of all their pain and therefore evil.
The histrionics and hysteria of the totalitarian personality are therefore projections of internal states of mind. Insecurities and self-loathing manifest themselves externally as oppressive structures, conspiracies, and hated enemies. Evidence is not required – the feeling of being attacked is all that is necessary to prove the existence of an enemy.
Lies, deception and violence are all ways in which the unconscious mind seeks to soothe psychological pain. When faced with a painful truth, or uncomfortable evidence, instead of assessing the truth and considering it stoically (as the well trained or “civilized” mind will), the totalitarian mind rejects it as if injured or insulted, and responds almost automatically with either a self-serving lie, or an attack on the source of their pain.
The Totalitarian Personality and Doublethink
Because the totalitarian mind perceives facts as attacks, the totalitarian rejects or accepts them on an emotional basis. This leads to what Orwell described as Doublethink.
“The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them…
To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary.
Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.” – George Orwell – 1984
Doublethink then, is one of the diagnostic markers of the Totalitarian Personality. It’s quite common for perfectly normal people to have biases, to hold self-contradictory viewpoints, and to engage in self-serving rationalizations. However, in the totalitarian mind these bad habits of mind are nearly impenetrable and automatic, as they are in a cult. See The Narcissists Prayer for an example of how the Totalitarian Personality reacts to evidence of wrongdoing.
The totalitarian mindset makes the individual very powerful – freed from the constraints of logic and truth, the totalitarian can, at least by his own definition, win any argument or debate. He can invent any fact that he wants, or make any accusation whatsoever. In fact, false allegations and made up truths are an important part of the totalitarian’s game plan – but it is also the totalitarian’s greatest weakness.
Continue for Part Two – Fighting Totalitarianism – The Lay of The Land in which I explain the strengths and weaknesses of the totalitarian personality.
See also – Book 10 of The Republic, in which Plato describes the Tyrannical Man.