By James Kunstler - December 6, 2021
The thesis called mass formation psychosis put forward lately by the Belgian psychologist Mattias Desmet — a good digest here in text, not video:
— goes a long way to explaining the disgraceful mindfuckery that Western Civ has fallen for in our time, promulgated by a thinking class that descended into abject madness. It’s well worth reviewing.
The descent was provoked by the existential anxiety over the collapse of techno-industrial economies and the end of progress as-we’ve-known-it. (Have you noticed: it was the self-styled “progressives” who went the craziest?) As Dr. Desmet lays it out, the disconnectedness of contemporary life, its lack of meaning or purpose for many, leads to unendurable anxiety. All that inchoate fear seeks desperately to attach itself to some real object, some thing or some force that can be comprehended, fought, and triumphantly overcome. Finding such a target produces an intoxicating sense of communal connection, purpose, and meaning, driving actions that are often crazy and also absolutely impervious to rational debate.
The angst in America was well established by 2016. A beaten-down middle-class suspected that left-of-center politicians did not have their interests at heart after years of off-shoring their jobs, and they managed to elect their avatar, Donald Trump, over the obviously unsympathetic globalist, Hillary Clinton — who snootily tagged her opposition “the deplorables.” Even so, the polls had her ahead by a mile. Then, by some weird twist of fate, she lost a few crucial counties in midwestern states she hadn’t bothered to visit, and was reportedly too plastered after midnight on election night to come down and console the troops at campaign headquarters. The shocking election outcome instantly deranged the nation’s entire managerial class and its thinking-out-loud interlocutors in the news media and on campus.
The Golden Golem of Greatness, as I liked to call Mr. Trump, was the perfect target for their animus. Threatening to “drain the swamp,” he would shatter their hard-won power privileges and deprive them of their well-worn grifts — such as the various revolving doors between big money and its regulators. Plus, his rough personality offended their own pretense of decorum (in pursuit of that power and grift). They decided that he had to go, and fast, and the whole managerial class and their allies closed ranks to get it done, not least the vicious agents of the Intel “Community,” which force-fed all the federal legal machinery — the official instruments of punishment.
If they could only knock Mr. Trump off the game-board, America’s troubles would over. We could get back on track to becoming a utopia of inclusion, diversity, equity, and self-driving electric cars. For four years the FBI, the DOJ, and other distributed players (such as the CIA mole Eric Ciaramella and his NSA co-seditionist Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and such ignoble rogues in Congress as Rep. Adam Schiff and Senator Mark Warner) beat President Trump like a pińata, casually breaking the very law that they supposedly represented in the process. This punishment was accompanied by a growing repertoire of cult-like rituals — especially around race-and-gender hustles — with rich opportunities for the new behavior called virtue signaling, which was essentially a game of collecting brownie points for status-seeking purposes in the new moral hierarchy of the “Woke.” The social networks, Facebook and Twitter, amplified every insane strand in the Woke messaging. As Dr. Desmet says, “The more absurd the rituals, the more they buy into it.”
This demonic opposition to Mr. Trump, and all the games issuing from it, produced the characteristic intoxication of mass formation psychosis. That is, the Left became a big cozy community of people initiated into a catechism of sacred truths. The important part is that they felt united in their struggle. Folks in the grip of this belonged to something at last, a solidarity of certitude, a social organism one could lose one’s anxious, fretful self in. No more loneliness and ennui. They were imbued with a sense of purpose: the ritual killing of the monster called Trump — millions of heroic Captain Willards stealing up-river to behead the renegade Colonel Kurtz. The news media’s role was to reinforce all that, with as much bad faith and dishonesty as they could get away with, in the service of fashioning a consensus that was eventually named “the narrative” — a self-reinforcing catalog of approved thought. The anti-Trump news posse garnered brownie points galore, including Pulitzer Prizes for their completely mendacious reporting.
The trouble was, for all their epic exertions, they weren’t exactly winning. The whole RussiaGate extravaganza fizzled — and may even eventuate in some criminal convictions if independent counsel John Durham turns out to be for-real. The Mueller Report came up plumb empty, to thundering disappointment, embodied in Rachel Maddow’s frantically bobulating Adam’s apple. The UkraineGate impeachment flopped. It was nice to have a sense of purpose and feel like a member of an exclusive club, but the Wokesters were unable to “nail that ol’ coonskin to wall” (as Lyndon B. Johnson once put it about winning the Vietnam War, which we lost). By January of 2020, it looked like Mr. Trump might even win re-election — the horror indeed! — considering the Democratic Party primary candidates were the most forlorn pack of has-beens, nobodies, kooks, and damaged goods ever assembled for such a contest. But whaddaya know? Along came Covid-19.
What a lifesaver the ‘Rona was for wobbling Wokedom, a cornucopia of boons, the gift that kept on giving! It provided an opportunity for perhaps the most craven public-private cartel in all the land, the CDC / FDA / NIH / NIAID / Big Pharma gang, to work some amazing hoodoo on the Golden Golem of Greatness and eventually all the nations of Western Civ. It put the perfidious, money-grubbing, and medically incompetent Dr. Anthony Fauci at the elbow of Mr. Trump as, in effect, the National Covid-19 Coordinator. He played the President like a Flugelhorn through most of 2020 — and, as the year ground on, Mr. Trump looked like he painfully suspected as much in all those ghastly televised daily briefings.
We will not go into the appalling mRNA vaccine boondoggle in detail here, except to say it reaped zillions for those with a stake in the patents, including Dr. Fauci. But Covid-19 also provided an excuse to relax the election regulations and pave the way to colossal ballot fraud in November, with Marc Elias of the Lawfare gang (and also a partner in the DNC’s pet law firm, Perkins Coie) scurrying from state to state tuning the electoral machinery in key swing precincts for a “Joe Biden” victory — and with hundreds of millions of dollars in help from Facebook’s Marc Zuckerberg. Till then, nothing in all the weaponized legal machinery across the land had succeeded in expelling the hated object of the managerial class’s loathing, but the election would git’er done.
Remember: the Progressive-Woke-Marxist-Jacobins liked nothing better than inflicting punishment. In fact, when you swept away all their ideological bullshit and the associated hustles, the movement was strictly about coercion, about pushing other people around, making them do as the Woke commissars willed. And there was a clearly sado-masochistic edge to all that. They relished cancelling people, wrecking careers, destroying reputations, livelihoods, marriages, families. Their political leaders had no qualms about exterminating hundreds of thousands of small businesses in Covid-19 lockdowns orchestrated by Woke heroes like Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Governors Gavin Newsom of California and Jay Inslee of Washington State. And, of course, their darlings of the streets, BLM and Antifa, bashed-in shopfronts, looted all the merch, and burned down the buildings with mad glee.
But, most importantly, Covid-19 gave the political Left something else to focus its angst on once Mr. Trump was finally swept off the scene in the janky election. And until just the last few weeks of 2021, the virus has furnished endless opportunity for ever greater enactments of coercion and tyranny. Except now, suddenly, it’s all falling apart. In America, the claque behind the phantom president “Joe Biden” pulled the trigger on mandating vaccinations — complete with harsh punishments for the vaxx-averse — but then two things happened: 1) Federal Judge Terry Douglas in Louisiana issued an injunction against the mandate that applies in all fifty states; and 2) the news finally started leaking out — despite every effort of the US public health officialdom to hide it — that the vaccines carried an unprecedented risk of harm for medicines enlisted so casually into emergency use among so many millions of people, in addition to their negligible efficacy in preventing illness and contagion.
The Europeans, on the other hand, slid ever-deeper into despotic measures not seen since the Gestapo terrorized the continent. The Europeans face the same primal source of anxiety that the Americans do: the running down of their techno-industrial economies, except their predicament is arguably a little bit keener than ours is, since they have hardly any oil and natural gas of their own to run things on, and suffer terrible uncertainty about who will furnish it for them. If they had not gone out of their minds over what has turned out to be a pretty punk-ass virus — when treated early with a menu of cheaply available drugs — and hadn’t deified the false savior vaccines, they might be a whole lot more concerned about how they are going to heat their homes, fertilize their crops, and produce things of value — in short, remain civilized.
The catch is, they’ve given themselves until February to enforce their foolish vaccine mandates . . .