The connection between Idealism and Fascism

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The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818 by Caspar David Friedrich

 

Once Adam and Eve ate of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil their eyes were opened.

Once their eyes were opened they became fully conscious.

This new found consciousness made them into judges.

Those that know the difference between good and evil begin to judge, label, divide and categorize.

Judges, by definition, have discernment and the natural consequence of discernment is loss of innocence. Innocence, as we see in animals and children, doesn’t mean an inability to do wrong or cause harm, it means an ignorance of the consequences of doing wrong or causing harm. An inability to act with full judgement.

This fundamental ignorance is why children can’t be prosecuted as adults.

Culpability is equated to consciousness.

The higher the consciousness, the greater the culpability. Adam and Eve attained a higher level of consciousness and so culpability.

Once humans gained the role of judge they began to create hierarchies.

Things became pure or impure by degree and laws were constructed to maintain the boundaries between them. Order was established. This order was based upon ideas about the best ways for humans to construct a society. Order created the basis on which nomadic hunter gatherer groups could settle into more secure and stable agrarian lifestyles. As agrarian societies would be comprised of larger social groups it is understandable that a greater emphasis needed to be placed on law.

Systems create infrastructure.

They limit, channel, modify,  guide and inform human behavior and endeavor. For example, the educational system governs what and how the population learns and the criminal justice system enforces norms and values with positive and negative sanctioning. In modern society media is also a system. Information is sorted, presented and transmitted through a variety of intermediary channels rather than face to face interactions as it would have been in the past. The long term implications of this cannot be fully known as we are still in stages of transition. What we do know is that it will certainly have implications.

Systems, provide roles to individuals and assign values to those roles.

Value and power are often equated so those assigned the most valuable roles are usually given the most power.

Systems either inhibit or encourage social mobility (the ease of an individual to change their role or status.)

Healthy systems facilitate the flow of information, maintain order and balance individual rights with social responsibilities.

Problems occur however, when a system serves the powerful at the expense of the powerless or becomes top heavy and unbalanced by inequalities of power. As power usually means wealth, that can mean significant inequalities in distribution of wealth.

In totalitarian systems the systems become more important than the individuals they are meant to serve and the maintenance of overall order overrides individual human rights. Healthy societies are made up of healthy individuals and so healthy systems nurture individuals.

If a system doesn’t serve the individual, it can never serve society as a whole.

Systems are built upon theological and philosophical beliefs.

Beliefs are fundamental. They inform the construction of the social world in which we live and grow.

Beliefs create ideals. Ideals can easily become ideologies and ideologies can become idols that individuals are prepared to sacrifice themselves for.

Studies have proven that people have a biological predisposition to political affiliation and those predispositions can be triggered by fear.

For example, the less easily disgusted a person is, the more left leaning they are likely to be. The lower a person’s tolerance to disgust, the more right leaning they are likely to be.

Far right ideology often leads to separatism and isolationism even, racism. Studies indicate the premise of this could be biological.

In evolutionary terms it was always safer to stay within the relatively narrow immune pool of ones own tribe. Native American peoples were killed in enormous numbers by viruses carried by European conquistadors because they had no immunity to them.

Could there also be a biological premise behind what we might consider to be other well reasoned political ideals?

Idealism creates a high contrast form of judgement which is very black and white.

With such a perspective, things and people are either purely good or purely evil.

Excessive puritanism can lead to fascism. This can lead to the practice of othering individuals based on differentiation such as race, culture, gender or class. Othering alienates and dehumanizes. Once individuals are grouped and labeled as other it is easier to lose compassion for them. The natural conclusion of such othering is the horrors of Nazism and the tragedy of the recent mass shootings in New Zealand.

External oppression within a society usually reflect the internal repression of individuals.

According to Carl Jung, humans have a tendency to hold contempt for the display of behaviors in others which they repress in themselves.

In Freudian terms totalitarian systems are an example of an over active collective super ego. They are an example of order at all costs and laws are made based on the premise that the end justifies the means.

The archetype for this would personify perfectionism. The perfection of this archetype would be Pharisaical though and the sacrificial martyr to it, motivated by hate for the “other” rather than love for the “other”. The fruit of such a sacrifice would  lead to more division rather than greater unity.

The Freudian id would represent the innocence of the garden. It would also represent chaos.

The Freudian ego would be a society with systems that facilitate the transformation of the unconscious id into consciousness rather than repression. It’s archetype would be a bridge builder and its symbol a reconciliation between heavenly and earthly realms.

Fear is the catalyst for extremism.

Fear is based on the biological drives of the unformed, unconscious id. Fear can serve our survival and in evolutionary terms it warned us of imminent danger. In the modern world, it is important that we examine our fears rationally. Fear is no joke, it is a social contagion and easily spread. The consequences of fear run amok can be devastating.

No one acting under primal impulses are their best selves.

We need to cultivate habits and patterns that encourage more conscious, mindful thinking. We need to make informed choices about what we watch, listen to and are influenced by. We need to analyse what kind of feelings and impulses different types of media stir in us.

Systems are a reflection of our collective beliefs.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves what kind of beliefs create the kinds of systems and societies we want our children to inherit. Our old priest used to say you can never do harm by loving.

Mother Teresa said it was impossible to judge people and love them at the same time. Jesus said that we are judged by how much we judge.

Beliefs that allow us to see the truth of ourselves in “the other”, beliefs that value messy, complicated, flawed love, compassion and empathy over ideologies, ideals, order, rightness, perfectionism or elitism, are perhaps, what will make our world great again.

 


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