In my last post, Narcissism, Malignant Narcissism, and Paranoia: Part IV, in relation to the Global War on Terror, more appropriately called the War on Islamofascism, I wrote about the danger of a significant portion of our society refusing to recognize the danger the enemy presents and acting in such a way as to endanger our war efforts.
The only way we can lose this war is to undermine our efforts from the inside. When our elites in the media, academia, the judiciary, ignore or refuse to look at the words of our enemies, and support abstractions over reality, it endangers our welfare, and our rights.
Now that the New York Times has tentatively suggested that Bush may have been correct all along, the danger might be thought to have lessened, since so much of our MSM take their talking points for the New York Times. However, lest we become too sanguine about the prospects, I would suggest the Time's "conversion" is rather shallow and grudging and contains within it a serious danger. I am using the Times as the liberal/left archetype, but this applies to that portion of the liberal elite who remain convinced they are smarter than the red state conservative bible thumpers (none of whom they know personally, of course.)
I have described how the person who is overly dependent on narcissistic supplies from the outside world tend to have fragile self esteem. They need constant affirmation of their goodness and value. Depending on the structure and content of their ego ideal, they may need to be seen as the most dangerous man around (as in the gangsta subculture) or as the smartest man around (as in much of the liberal elite) or the wealthiest (think about Wall Street around bonus time.) The Narcissistic character has a need to be perfect. Only by being admired and respected (if need be out of fear) can they feel loved and valued. Every moment risks falling short of perfection, losing the admiration of the nurturing objects (fans, subjects, significant others, children)
When a person who cannot tolerate being seen as wrong or weak is faced with a reverse, he has few resources to fall back on and little recourse. For the Narcissist to accept a defeat is the ultimate humiliation (and for many people becomes the impetus for a suicide attempt).
How is such a person to handle their defeat. A healthy person capitulates with grace and dignity. One can't be correct all the time and sometimes the facts are on the other side. In that case, you are best off admitting you are wrong and come on board, if possible, always retaining the right and ability to disagree in the future when he situation warrants. Many of the newest of the neo-cons would fall into this group. One might have been convinced that any attempt to go into Iraq was doomed to be a disaster and a quagmire, but the elections and the spread of the democratic meme suggest that Bush was right to insist that people want freedom. It may still all go terribly wrong, but anyone with an open mind would have to agree that there is more reason for optimism than anyone would have thought possible on 9/11.
The more impaired and impoverished will have a much harder time admitting an error. Some will fight with all their might to deny anything has changed. They may find themselves in the same fix as Nancy Soderberg, who told Jon Stewart that
"As a Democrat, you don't want anything nice to happen to the Republicans, and you don't want them to have progress. But as an American, you hope good things would happen."
For more context, some discussion of attempts to minimize her comments and a link to the Daily Show in which shew made the comment, visit James Taranto's Best of the Web.
I believe there are a great many liberal Democrats (I am surrounded by them in New York City) who have the same ambivalence about what is going on in the world today. The problem for people like this is that their self image is intimately tied to being smarter and more ethical than the hoi polloi, the red state rubes. How could a Texas cowboy, along with some apostate Jews (like Paul Wolfowitz, the subject of a very nice article, Giving Wolfowitz His Due, by David Brooks today) be correct when all of the wise sages of Academia and the MSM, along with the elites of the European Union, predicted disaster when we refused to go through the UN and continue talking to Saddam Hussein? If our elites are wrong, it threatens to marginalize them even further from he power centers of America. Fewer and fewer people are watching the major network news casts; the circulation of the New York Times, the LA Times, Newsday are plunging; more and more of our young do not buy the left wing cant being promulgated as progressive thought in our universities, places where Ward Churchill is treated as if he is a scholar and where Lawrence Summers suggestion of new, albeit obvious, possibilities are met with threats of fainting by the doyens of the status quo (see my take on the Lawrence Summers kerfuffle here.). The old elites are seeing their grip on the bureaucracy slipping away; the Democrats are becoming a smaller and smaller minority in the Congress and have little hope of gaining power again anytime soon unless the Republicans stumble badly.
For the Narcissist, being wrong is humiliating. Humiliation evokes rage and despair. They either must deny that they are wrong, and turn the rage outward, which risks a paranoid flight into delusion, or they must accept their error, turn the rage inward, and despair. The Democratic party is now stuck trying to sort out whether or not they will despair, mourn their lost ideas, and move on to develop new ideas which they can present to the American people in the hope of winning our hearts and minds, or they can resist despair, become more and more paranoid and irrational, and like a defiant child, shout, "NO!" to everything...
And as the left descends into paranoid delusional thinking, some will take the words of a Ward Churchill to heart, and like the Weathermen of an earlier benighted age, join the terrorists in attacking their projected selves.