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A paranoid fear of the known

February 21, 2017

I discussed The Diplomad’s own discussion of the madness of the left which brought forward this very insightful comment from AndrewZ:

It’s important to understand that identity politics creates paranoia.

It divides society into categories based on personal characteristics like race, gender and sexuality. It then labels some of those groups as oppressors and some as victims, and teaches that all interactions between the members of different groups must be interpreted in terms of a hierarchy of power.

It also teaches that the personal is political. This is a natural consequence of defining the political factions in society in terms of their personal characteristics. But it means that every aspect of life then has to be interpreted in political terms, and in the framework of identity politics that means that every single thing in the world must be seen as an expression of the power relationships between the oppressors and their victims.

Now imagine what it means to really internalize that worldview. For example, a woman who has come to believe that men are her oppressors will come to see all men as a threat. She will become acutely conscious of the presence of men and will feel unsafe when there are any males nearby. She will begin to believe that she is surrounded by predators who want to do her harm and who have society’s permission to do so. Every social interaction will begin to seem dangerous and loaded with hidden messages about power and privilege. Political disagreement becomes intolerable because if the personal is political there is no difference between political disagreement and a personal attack.

In other words, the logic of identity politics naturally leads to paranoid thinking, and the more seriously a person takes it the more paranoid he, she or xe will become.

This results in a demand for “safe spaces” from which the designated oppressor groups are excluded. It also leads to rage, because people who feel that they are constantly under threat will come to hate the thing that threatens them even if the threat is largely or wholly imaginary. This in turn leads to outbursts of violence and hysteria as a means of releasing the psychological pressure of living under constant siege.

Now imagine how Donald Trump would appear to someone with that mindset. He’s a rich, white, alpha male Republican. Their ideology teaches them that a man like him is the apex predator of oppression, and the paranoia that it induces will make them feel that all this terrible danger is aimed at them personally. Even if they could somehow bring Donald Trump down they would soon feel just as threatened as they did before, because they cannot let go of their own self-image as victims without admitting that the whole conceptual framework of identity politics is fundamentally wrong.

But when the personal is political, changing your opinion on anything becomes a matter of changing part of your identity and that is never easy for anybody, so don’t expect the left to calm down anytime soon.

This was followed by a second comment by Anonymous also along the same theme:

Leftism and paranoia — correlation or causation? This post argues that leftism induces a persecution complex. Perhaps. But I think it is even more insidious than that. Naturally, paranoid people will tend towards leftism because it promises — falsely — the protection of a paternalistic state. We all know how well that works. But our gloriously failing educational bureaucracy from nursery school through college now actively teaches students to become paranoid. Yes, the main function of contemporary education in America is to induce a sense of persecution in all students. This causes them to become lefties. So, I think the most critical problem is that we are now breeding generations of cry-babies who will fundamentally alter the character of the nation. To make leftism work, you must create paranoids. This is, I believe, the most important link in the correlation-causation chain.

What sort of syndrome is it to be fearful of the known and totally welcoming of the unknown even though everything you do know about this particular unknown will wreck everything about the life you are presently leading?

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