If you have paid attention to my blog at all, you might have noticed that I’ve done some exploration into what I’ve called “weaponized narcissism”. I won’t rehash it all right now, but this is a very infantile state that has been cultivated among the western population in a number of ways. Not everyone “catches” it, if you will, but it definitely gets one ahead in situations where social status is paramount in maintaining any sort of relevance or respectability.
In western politics, it’s safe. It’s avoiding certain topics in order to not be ridiculed, as if the worst thing to happen would be mockery from other bobble heads on twitter or other platforms while NATO burns the world down for the benefit of the very few.
That safety exists in an all-encompassing landscape of fascist projects that go undetected because that’s what Operation Paperclip was meant to do using the techniques of MKULTRA that persuade people in a number of ways into thinking that they have freedom of choice. Often this is given a greater complexity than necessary.
Here is an example: FOIA’d documents on early programs name experiments on soldiers about neurological altering skin applications. They will go on to discuss how certain chemicals have been marketed and added to cosmetics or now mundane anti-diarrheal over the counter medications. Do these have neurological changes that can be proven? Of course they do — the inheritors of the effects of all these programs, nearly everyone you know in a western country, have been programmed to think they are making a true decision between L’Oréal, Cover Girl, Imodium, or Pepto-Bismol.
Decisions are made by labels based on certain perceptions one has agreed with after using this or that commodity, and it takes up a certain decision making process that is controlled by the virtually nameless corporations that funded and benefited from these experiments. So when we hear of new mind-altering skin patches being tested on soldiers (this has flashed through my feeds recently), we are struck with some sort of fear about programs that seem to be out of our control without thinking of those other methods by which we are currently controlled. It inspires a feeling of hopelessness, and the process repeats itself.
This may seem like oversimplification, but the monofocus inspired by delving into the FOIA phenomenon can detract from the larger picture. The details are important, but so is the bigger picture and how mundane so much of this is. My frustration currently resides with the inculcation of narcissism and perpetual childhood social media promotes in finding the correct respectable faction in order to appeal to, who, exactly? — from my purview, it seems like the mommy and daddy roles gatekeepers and their paymasters represent in this sphere. Being good enough is trampling over others to fit a set of elusive concepts of what a person under this regime is supposed to be.
I became interested in the narcissistic and enabling family dynamic (you can visit this work here and here) in large part due to my own history. I won’t go into too much personal detail, but my history like many others includes finding oneself in the charge of children in adult bodies who never really addressed their own histories and how those have affected them going into what is nominally called, at least, adulthood. This phase of our (working class) life is in fact extremely infantile itself, in my opinion: boxed into units, shelling out earnings to keep the lights on, and playing for just a little while when the masters say it’s okay. Choices are then split up into A, B, or C as to what can be done with that time.
This is “being an adult” and being responsible. Sure, it’s important to navigate this in order to survive and it has its own set of rules, but again this addresses concepts one is always fulfilling without the encouragement to expand oneself and one’s interests as an individual. That is meant to be blunted. It is the literal rat maze with new tweaks being added to the conceptual framework that our labor power does in fact go toward in making the imperialist project tick every day.
Although a greater level of narcissism is often pegged to the youngest generations who have the latest technology to stare at their image by way of a scanner, darkly, literally attached to their hands at all times, their true forbears are the “baby boomers”. Obfuscating lackeys love to repeat and tinker with shallow generational analysis, placing blame on this working class generation for draining what is known as the commons, the public purse, without much left for their heirs. As if any privileges they had been granted and expropriated by the ruling class is squarely on their shoulders.
Things weren’t always easy for them, as tired as one might be of their stories of springing forth from the gritty reality of “the greatest generation”. I am of the opinion they are the most experimented on generation as they’ve aged, and the generations that they have reproduced are experiencing a more intense level of psychological manipulation and warfare the masters have gone on to develop. Weaponized narcissism may then be seen as the engine for the personal failings of people who went on to try to replicate the set of concepts known as the american dream without realizing the collective warfare waged on their cohort. Without ever realizing they were enough as individuals, they passed on these perceived or not fully realized shortcomings to their offspring.
I was part of a discussion in one of the more informative and interesting Facebook groups I am in recently about these sorts of phenomena as they relate to apathy and ignorance of difficult things — things that require a sober adult mind — such as organized pedophilia and trafficking. A former psychologist made some illuminating comments on how television programming has operated on this most experimented on generation. There is not only the ever-present nostalgia industry at work to convince us that things were better at one time or another under a ruthless ruling class in the states, but the messages that were implanted into (particularly the white nation of) baby boomers’ heads about their better station in life to soothe fears of not having the attentive parents that they were sure existed somewhere. This programming has in part allowed for them to look back on a fake version of comfort while at the individual level, they can’t understand why their 30 year old son is still surfing on their couch and eating potato chips or not striving for the picket fence themselves.
Having this all figured out, pat, has been the version of adulthood so many of us in proceeding generations in the states have been presented with as the most desirous way of fitting into the aforementioned concepts of what a human being is. A winding path of discovery from the time we are children guided by responsible adults who look out for our safety and who find joy in nurturing us is something that has been replaced by ideas of us being mini-adults from the time we can walk and figure out object permanence. Of course not all have been affected, fortunately, but it certainly doesn’t help that this much more stable and normal development has been defined as something superfluous and “middle class”, and that if one yearns for such a state of mind, surely one is caught up with illusions of such a thing ever existing.
What’s “normal” anyway? This is a common refrain that has become anthem to those marginalized into conducting most of their socialization online. The concept of abnormality among subcultures is something that separates the “normies” from those “in the know”. No one wants to be a boring normie. Normality in its social sense can be thought of as a harmonious state of functioning with others that includes an equitable give and take at play that accounts for others’ material and emotional needs while not sacrificing those of one’s own. Despite this conditioning to internalize normality or abnormality as individual phenomena only contained within the bourgeois self, people want relationships that simply and regularly work and function in a way that makes them feel loved and gives them a sense of security.
It is abundantly clear that this is but one perfectly normal process that capitalism works to interrupt, and therefore our sense of normality is replaced by patterns of love and stability based on mass image production. More than that, we receive messages from the airwaves that love is enmeshment and a lack of differentiation from our object of affection. Love is a feeling contained within the mind, floating free of all material ties. Being in love is being a slave to others and doing anything for them. Without that in return, how do we know we are being loved? We can’t read another’s mind after all, so there is a constant not-knowingness to keep up with according to this paradigm.
Those who have suffered through the narcissistic family dynamic are all too familiar with the haunting feelings of never being good enough. It is from a comment on this exceptional Psychology Today article about this sort of “baggage” that made me start to analyze how this conceptual framework of assessing other individuals in different political online milieus operates to split people up based on the abnormality of “the new normal”.
But how does the message “I’m not good enough” get internalized? Where does this come from? To start with, I want you to think about small children and how impressionable they are, how they are soaking up life and trying to learn and understand the world around them. And, the most important thing to them is gaining love and affection from their caregivers. They do not yet have a worldly or experienced understanding of human behavior or why people behave in certain ways. Their main goal is to be loved, and this is of course, what every child deserves. […]
Children are like sponges and take in their environment on emotional levels as well as physical and intellectual levels. They learn very early that if Mommy and Daddy are happy then they themselves will be happier too and get more of that love they need. “When Mommy is happy, she will play with me and spend time with me.” “When Daddy is not mad, he will be nicer to all of us.” Kids want peace, love and harmony in their lives and need it to thrive emotionally. So, if it is not there, guess what they do? Try to fix it by trying to be a better and better kid, or they may also try the opposite and act out to get their parents to focus on them.
With the patterning of the mind imprinted by these ideas, one learns to alter and modify behaviors to receive what any human has a right to, love and acceptance. Given the impression that one must conform to difficult standards set by their so-called caregivers, dysfunction emerges in what is considered standard in relationships outside of the family unit. It’s true that some our most important socialization occurs during our youngest years by the people immediately charged with our care. If this goes unchallenged as one grows into adulthood, our development is indeed arrested. Codependent relationships are sought out because this is the pattern that feels most comfortable, or, that is at least known to fulfill some need one has become accustomed to because of early conditioning.
It may not be the sort that truly encourages flourishing as a fully developed individual. Self-destructive behaviors are known to elicit some sort of reaction from others, sure, but that does not mean that what can develop into malignant narcissism is based on overall self-worth. I agree with the psychologists and therapists who name narcissism as a form of self-loathing. What is to like about this self that has been repeatedly told doesn’t measure up? Better take it out on others who don’t either. This too is a type of soothing even though it is fleeting. This repetition of certain types of patterns is often referred to as “supply”.
Back to my frustrations with how this plays out in the social media sphere: the standards are set by those who represent the masters who really matter to the dysfunctional self — those who play it safe and who have access to that ultimate supply, most importantly materially. To share in that access means to play by these rules. Building oneself up by elusive conceptual ideals on what individuality means and comfortable with self-destruction when that doesn’t fill the hole, and it’s not meant to by design. Those who do not seek the same are sensed as a threat. Like the scapegoat role that often emerges in the narcissistic family unit, these “whistle blowers” on the status quo are easy to single out, ridicule, and abuse.
What I’ve seen for some time, and that comrades have commented wisely on, is that among left milieus online, one is to have been born a marxist (or anarchist or whatever flavor) and have understood all their “problematic” behaviors and ideals before even coming to a community. Before we can walk among the professional opinion havers, we should have crawled while scooting along and completely comprehending The Communist Manifesto. This is convenient for those higher up and who have learned from COINTELPRO tactics; much of the work has been done by the architects of social media.
(More on Silicon Valley / personal computers / social media as outgrowth of Vietnam-era counterinsurgency research: https://t.co/IQiwfkAmJg)
— Crypto Cuttlefish (@cuttlefish_btc) May 31, 2016
No, not everything is predetermined, but these patterns can be fairly predictable. If your supposed comrades are nothing more than a set of concepts that are supposed to measure up to the replacement mommy/daddy gatekeepers’ examples, it’s easy to discard them when you can obtain supply from another faction that seems more respectable than those who question how this all ticks. If there’s no solidarity present, which is an act of love based on the doing of it all versus what others should make you feel, then you are not looking for fellow humans to grow, learn, and discover with. You’re searching out concepts, and while those may be admirable for people to understand and work toward, it’s no replacement for human interaction.
It’s true that the internet can only represent individuals in a limited dimensional sense, but we can surmise the intentions of others. Working on blind spots or shortcomings collectively based on some basic rules is to recognize another’s vulnerability and respect their humanity. This is why I now question the sudden onset of new left issues when anything big happens to beloved celebrities that can cause splits among us “nobodies”. Although this is a pretty fraught example, it is one that is fairly familiar in that it stirs up controversy and allows for further infighting and winnowing of factions depending on where one comes down on the “issue”.
Respectability based on this historical psychological warfare is a problem. Concepts of what makes an ideal leftist or apparent small time political actor (based solely on the fact of having a twitter or Facebook account and voicing one’s opinion) are so open to manipulation by operators that humanity is lost in the wash to attain something — and what that is, I’m not sure. People can be classed as a political descriptor for simply not getting along with another’s cohort without even grasping the larger theater we have all been put into on social media. Unfortunately, there’s no central party to appeal to in order to affect the outcomes of geopolitical maneuvers. To my mind, that’s what a lot of people who smear those who don’t respect the Respectable appear to be appealing to or desirous of, but absent this, it turns out to be an orgy of gossip and slander that’s easy to surveil and further marginalize those turned on by those in their same class.