Saturday, 17 August 2019

Identity Politcs As Autophagous Guilt - the Stockholm Syndrome


We have argued that Guilt is the principium individuationis of Western Judaeo-Christian civilization: the Original Sin is at once the central myth of our religion and the most potent confirmation of how guilt is its quintessential notion. (It is not true to surmise, as does Zizek in The Indivisible Remainder that the deepest essence of the self is the Lie. This facile conundrum belongs to the anti-scientistic querelle of the most juvenile instincts of the young Nietzsche – the mythology of the Mask from The Birth of Tragedy to On Truth and Lies. The true, unequivocal, systematic Nietzsche dating from Beyond Good and Evil is the one who adroitly identifies the essence of self-reflection as guilt, and its institutional excrescence in Christendom.)  For there to be a Self there must be an “agency”. And all action implies the possibility of error. And consciousness of error engenders guilt. Guilt implies remorse. And remorse in turn implicates conscience or self-reflection and self-doubt. To feel guilty, one must have a notion of conscience – whence “the genealogy of morals” (Nietzsche’s sequel to Beyond Good and Evil) - as well as a doubt about the morality of one’s prior actions. Western civilization is the only human koine’ or cultural entity characterized by guilt. That is why our civilization has one other central element called “tolerance” that contains both an element of self-doubt and a component of cowardice. And self-doubt and cowardice feed on each other.

Western civilization in its twin moments of guilt and tolerance suffers mortally from what is widely known as “the Stockholm Syndrome” – which is where cowardice comes into play. One of the most puzzling human phenomena that has come recently into focus is the manner in which Western people who are harmed by others especially in a manner that involves their forceful “abduction” – their lengthy removal from their normal social environment – how these hostages come at some point of their imprisonment or confinement not just to sympathize with their abductors but indeed, much more, to share their beliefs and to espouse their cause – even to the point of turning into active militants for that cause against the interests of their own social values and institutions. Indeed, folly of follies, against the very guilt and morality that led to their being victimized by their abductors and that enabled their “sympathy for the devil”! The Stockholm Syndrome is indeed puzzling. For we must ask: how can people who have been abducted and removed from the protection of Western society and values whose very origin in the sense of guilt gives rise to tolerance – people who are then put in a situation of real potential and immediate harm by their abductors – how can these people then over time come to embrace the revendications of their guilt-free and intolerant, self-righteous captors and – most puzzling of all – even turn into active fighters for what by all means should be their mortal enemies?

Evidently, there are two ingredients or elements at the heart of the Stockholm Syndrome: the first is guilt and the second is cowardice. Guilt does not only or merely make us doubt the “rightness” of our past actions; it also introduces the possibility of tolerating and even sympathizing with or sharing the values and interests of the entities against which we took our past actions that now induce our guilt and remorse. It is this “sympathy for the devil” that we must now understand and confront. We must avoid the Judaeo-Christian guilt trap whereby to understand everything is to forgive everything. Because if the purpose of understanding is to tolerate and forgive, then if we are truly confident in the superiority of our values – which include also legitimate tolerance for the tolerable – we cannot stretch those values to the point where we tolerate the intolerable and we forgive the unforgivable! There must be some inimical people and values that are so destructive of and antithetical to our own tolerant values that we can neither forgive them nor tolerate – that we must simply crush and annihilate. There are some enemies in life that we must simply kill.

What characterizes Identity Politics could be interpreted as a specific expression of the Stockholm Syndrome. First, there is the guilt element. Then, there is the need to atone for past sins, real or perceived. Next, comes the revulsion and hatred for those other “whites” who hypocritically deny the sins of the past. Of course, there ensues the “identification” with the so-called “victims”. But this identification with victims requires that the Westerner who feels guilty and wishes to atone for this guilt must join the so-called victims in the assertion of their revendications or “rights” against “third parties” who continue to perpetrate the alleged sins or oppression – the unrepentant “white supremacists and nativists”. It follows that the very first talismans of Identity Politics guilt-laced hatred are those very institutions that, through their origin in guilt, gave rise and inspired Identity Politics in the first place – chief among them and first in line, of course, is the Church, followed with less intensity but equal ferocity by the institutions of Judaism, the Israeli State and the Jewish diaspora.

But we have not yet touched upon the final crowning achievement or rather self-immolation more than self-chastising of Identity Politics. And that is the attribution of greater worth to the intransigently intolerant values, customs and tenets of the enemies of Judaeo-Christian civilization than to the latter civilization whose original and distinctive historical mark is to have elevated the notions of self-doubt, guilt, remorse and tolerance to the highest and noblest measures of human civilized life and dignity! In other words, the highest achievement of Identity Politics is to denigrate, combat and ultimately obliterate the very Judaeo-Christian morality that alone could give rise to anything remotely resembling the values and goals of Identity Politics! Less obliquely put, the infamy of Identity Politics is that – not hypo-critically but hyper-critically – it devours the very morality and values on which it is supposed to stand! It is thus that Identity Politics devours itself and obliterates the very “identities” that it wishes to champion and impose!

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