Alien Anthropology history Philosophy politics Psychology

Making Monsters

As an authoritarian regime always and implicitly depends for self-validation upon the presence of external and internal threats, where it does not find them it will manufacture them.

This is a narcissistic pathology, writ large. The essential and interior psychological surface as self-definition of an individual (or organisational system as political abstraction of nation) is what it is in reference to an antithetical Other and reflexive context. As self is defined in this way as inadvertently anchored upon an ontologically problematic and effectively unknowable Other, when that Other fails to materialise or at least to appear in the ways that justify the bundle of repressive neuroses that Self embodies, it is manufactured, constructed, refined and – in the national case – provoked into existence.

If I have had to specify where (and when, or how) this is relevant in our contemporary context, you have not understood. It is enough to say that even as the authoritarian juggernauts serially produce the national threats through which they self-define, they also and endlessly invoke a sociotechnical and economic systemic fragility, instability and internal dissatisfaction that leads to inevitable internal dissonance and crackdowns. To make the yawning abyss of reflexive self-definition at least appear as smaller or notionally controlled, it is necessary to dig a bigger hole around it. It is an ideological and regulatory pathology not unique to an authoritarian state but in this instance tends to climax in either war or revolution as the necessary resolution and termination of one dynamical (i.e. historical) cycle and the initiation of a new one.

It is hardly surprising that these oscillating patterns resemble individuated pathologies. The good, the bad and the ugly of large scale human self-organisational systems are inevitably and intractably the macroscopic products of the same experiences and psychological narratives that inflate all of our lives with personal meaning and, often enough, also (a kind of) political madness. I watch what happens in our world and wonder just what it is about humanity that perennially orients itself towards the percolation to ascendance of such insecure brutality to positions of power. Why, in other words, do we not merely suffer such monsters but constantly reproduce them?

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