“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” – Karl Popper
“In Aug., 2003, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the results of their $1.2 million tax-payer funded study. It stated, essentially, that traditionalists are mentally disturbed. Scholars from the Universities of Maryland, California at Berkeley, and Stanford had determined that social conservatives…suffer from ‘mental rigidity,’ ‘dogmatism,’ and ‘uncertainty avoidance,’ together with associated indicators for mental illness.” – The result of Theodor Adorno‘s work on authoritarianism.
Having fought social conservatives since 2010, many of us are familiar with the above, having used them to understand their stubbornly enigmatic nature. Foes of intolerance and dogmatism immediately recognized the traits among those on the Left during the recent election: The final insult of being painted with their own accusations.
Unfortunately, that does not mean intolerance and authoritarianism have left the Right, as evidenced by boycotts on Twitter of companies and individuals with whom Trump supporters do not agree, among them the NFL for player protests. This is a separate issue because first amendment rights to free speech do not extend to the workplace, as in Hamilton‘s cast calling out Mike Pence in the audience. The Trump admin intends to embrace economic nationalism, which entails much concern for the citizens – all the citizens. Anything else is fascism.
Fortunately, and despite portrayals otherwise by the media, Trump and his family are enlightened internationalists, well educated and appreciative of their unique opportunity to rebuild this country using the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, as was first intended. Unfortunately, this splendid adventure will leave many on the Right enslaved by their intolerance and dogmatism.
In effect, as we put an end to progress at all costs for the benefit of the wealthy, and return to commons sense government, authoritarians on the left and right, mentally incapable of dealing with cognitive dissonance, tribalism and other barriers to clarity, will be left behind as enemies of compassionate moderation.
Chris Hedges teaches us that those who adhere to religious dogma have cheated themselves of the existential opportunity in discovering the mysteries of life. It has also created an impediment to socialism, a prerequisite of political efficacy. And when great tribes of them exert political power, they become a systemic threat.
Either one must remain terrified or become terrifying—which means surrendering to the disassociations of a fabricated life or conquering the unity of one’s native soil. – Frantz Fanon
Unfortunately, the proliferation of whackjob physicians on the Right indicates no link between intellect and authority, meaning those greatly educated on the left are no more likely to awaken from delusion than primitives. Indeed, those surrendering to the authority of education are perhaps more susceptible. Like Jung, I must use myself as an example. I never adhered to the contentions of formal education, never graduating university, but maintaining a life long curiosity for and love of knowledge. And relatively free of religious dogma, I was able to embrace ideas as made sense to me and with the ability to defend them. As a result, I’ve been shunned most of my life as a madman.
Reinhold Niebuhr, as Cone points out in his book, labeled this capacity to defy the forces of repression “a sublime madness in the soul.” Niebuhr wrote that “nothing but madness will do battle with malignant power and ‘spiritual wickedness in high places.’ ” This sublime madness, as Niebuhr understood, is dangerous, but it is vital. Without it, “truth is obscured.” And Niebuhr also knew that traditional liberalism was a useless force in moments of extremity. Liberalism, Niebuhr said, “lacks the spirit of enthusiasm, not to say fanaticism, which is so necessary to move the world out of its beaten tracks. It is too intellectual and too little emotional to be an efficient force in history.”
Niebuhr’s “sublime madness” permits the rest of us to view the possibilities of a world otherwise seen only by the visionary, the artist and the madman. And it permits us to fight for these possibilities. The prophets in the Hebrew Bible had this sublime madness. The words of the Hebrew prophets, as Abraham Heschel wrote, were “a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven.”
You will notice that sublime madness is said not to exist on the Left. Indeed, their submission to educational authority indisposes them. Therefore, those of us on the right must somehow find a way to enlighten our political brethren above the “dissociations of a fabricated life,” such as the enslavements of religion, tribalism and materialism.
We also know the enlarged amygdala among some conservatives predispose them to fearful emotions resulting in clinging to guns and xenophobia. Like authoritarians, we must recognize the mentally ill among us and limit their control of government. But whereas dogmatism of the Right may be an unfortunate trait, it is perhaps calamity for those on the Left, who may not soon recover from mass delusion, enabled as it is by the status quo. So, our journey to Enlightenment may need to take into account the many who are simply not able, and pity rather than scorn something which cannot be helped. Indeed, it may turn out that these mental afflictions are too prevalent to be overcome and we have largely become a country gone insane. Perhaps, but I’m not ready to give up just yet.