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Thu Feb 6, 2020, 11:44 AM

Extraordinary Popular Delusions

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”
Charles MacKay; Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds (1841)


They would later say the crowd was so loud that they couldn't hear themselves tune their guitars. They were used to screaming during their concerts, but it was becoming more intense. Being the Beatles, they could afford the strongest marijuana available, and had gotten high before going on stage. As they were playing, John noticed that he could get waves of madness from the audience, by moving the neck of his guitar.

John realized then that the audience was an organism, rather than a collection of individuals. He had become increasingly unhappy about touring. This sealed it for him. In a short time, the Beatles would stop going on the road.

I was thinking of this when Trump read the state of the union address. Like every conscious human being who listened to it, the speech that Stephen Miller wrote for him was disturbing. And how could it not be? For Trump and Miller are highly disturbed individuals.

This morning, I was thinking about the people who support Trump. The republican chant, “Four more years” was pathetic. Some are true believers with a shared goal of destroying the Constitution ( **except Amendment 2), others are moral cowards afraid of their own shadows. And, of course, the 40% of voters who support him.

Trump tipped the neck of his guitar at the brain-dead fans of Rush Limbaugh. Steve Bannon and Alex Jones surely are next on Trump's list of American heroes. I recognized that I was thinking about this too much. I needed to “turn off my mind, relax, and float downstream.” So I laid on the couch, and watched two old documentaries.

The shows were about Jim Jones, of Guyana infamy. Bad choices if one did not want to think about the Trump cult. Jones and Trump speak the same language. They share the same skill-sets, and though their paths are different, both will lead their flock to the lowest of elevations of the plain of Shinar.

The major difference between the two is that Jones had, as a young adult, actually done some good work with the poor and marginalized. But power went to his head, and he mistakenly mistook himself as the source of Good. This delusion and significant substance abuse combined to reduce him to Trump's level of being. He preyed upon people's weaknesses, and used some basic techniques to reduce his flock into sheep. The end result was much what Trump's path will lead to, without intervention.

Eventually I turned the television off. My dog Sam got off his chair as I got off the couch, He knocked three books off of a book shelf. As I picked them up, I noticed one was C.G. Jung's 1968, “Analytical Psychology: Its Theory & Practice.” Immediately, I though this collection of his lectures would afford me a vacation from Trump.

After sitting down and opening the book, I was reminded that 23 years ago, my oldest daughter, then 3, decided to read my book. Crayon in hand, she made notes to herself and future readers, scribbling on almost every page of about a fifth of the book. Were Jung alive, I'd ask him what he saw in the lines and lopsided attempts at circles my daughter made.

Instead, I turned to the back of the book, without any scribbling on it. I went to Lecture Five, starting on page 151. I find Jung fascinating, and was convinced that this would allow me to let my mind wander where his lecture led the audience. Enough time wasted thinking of Trump, I thought. But then on page 183, he said that all of the things that happen consciously are merely the surface, that “what the unconscious really contains are the great collective events of the time.” In that part of the human mind, he said, “history prepares itself; and when the archetypes are activated in a number of individuals and comes to the surface, we are in the midst of history, as we are now.”

That sounded uncomfortably close to the current situation. Way too close. Jung went on to explain that as the groundwork was being set in place below the surface in Germany before WW2, he recognized ripples rising up in people's subconscious. As early as 1918, he wrote that the “blond beast” was rising from the collective unconscious of the German people. He knew that something terrible would change world history as a result.

****************** ********************

I didn't finish this last night, so I'll try to wrap it up this morning. I just saw a clip of Trump attacking Nancy and Mitt at the payer breakfast. It fits in with the theme of this essay in a curious way. Perhaps that is fitting for an non-curious specimen like Trump.

The sacred texts of the world generally fall into two types: the generally subjective interpretations of the group's history, and psychological road signs pointing the route to eventual enlightenment. Since we all know how the 2016 election was stolen, we will focus upon the latter. For sake of this discussion, one does not need to be “religious,” or “spiritual.” Indeed, while this encompasses religion and spirituality, it is also a form of humanism.

Today, for example, our understanding of brain chemistry allows us to recognize that people once considered to be “possessed” are suffering from mental illness. Columbia University's Professor of Clinical Psychiatry Michael Stone uses gradations of “evil” to rank violent criminals on a scale, though not in a religious context. Our understanding of human behavior is no longer defined, to use a Carl Sagan line, by shadows of forgotten ancestors.

Thus, when we view the unconscious group force that Trump is attempting to call forth in America today, it is the “monster” or “beast” that ancient texts speak of. It has risen and fallen throughout the tides of human civilization. It's not a red devil with a long tail, horns, and a pitchfork. No, today it's a fat old fool in a suit with a long necktie, blurting threats directed at anyone and everyone he deems as his enemy. It's the amoeba-brained republicans cheering, “Four more years.” It's the people who think Rush Limbaugh deserves a medal.

We are the conscious majority. Our resistance is the democratic response to the threat to the Constitution. Our duty is to render Trump and the cowards in DC soon-to-be forgotten missing links.

Peace H2O Man

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Arrow 24 replies Author Time Post
Reply Extraordinary Popular Delusions (Original post)
H2O Man Feb 6 OP
empedocles Feb 6 #1
H2O Man Feb 6 #3
empedocles Feb 6 #5
H2O Man Feb 6 #7
NoMoreRepugs Feb 6 #2
H2O Man Feb 6 #4
spanone Feb 6 #6
H2O Man Feb 6 #8
spanone Feb 6 #9
H2O Man Feb 6 #12
spanone Feb 6 #13
librechik Feb 6 #10
H2O Man Feb 6 #11
NBachers Feb 7 #14
H2O Man Feb 8 #17
llmart Feb 7 #15
H2O Man Feb 8 #19
llmart Feb 8 #20
H2O Man Feb 8 #23
llmart Feb 8 #24
crickets Feb 7 #16
H2O Man Feb 8 #21
malaise Feb 8 #18
H2O Man Feb 8 #22

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 11:53 AM

1. Good piece. One quibble. Edit: 'trump and the cowards . . . not be forgotten'.

[Be lessons of history].

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Response to empedocles (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:15 PM

3. Their acts

and failures to act will be remembered. But their names, not so much.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:17 PM

5. Understand it was a humorous quibble, good piece.

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Response to empedocles (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:20 PM

7. Thanks!

We need to crush them in November. And that includes putting as much pressure on them every day from now until the elections.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:09 PM

2. Righteous H2O Man... Righteous.

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Response to NoMoreRepugs (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:16 PM

4. Thank you!

These are evil human beings.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:20 PM

6. ⭐️K&R⭐️

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Response to spanone (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:20 PM

8. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:21 PM

9. 👍🏼

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Response to spanone (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 03:33 PM

12. Watching Trump today,

it was evident that he is a pimp, and the republicans in the House & Senate are his prostitutes.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 03:40 PM

13. That was one of the more frightening things I've seen in politics in all my years.

He makes Nixon look like an honorable man.

We are in the strangest of times.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:24 PM

10. That is a most fundamental book--I think of it often these days

good sailing!

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Response to librechik (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 12:29 PM

11. That it is!

One of my nieces is reading a lot of Jung. That makes me happy.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 08:28 PM

14. Your posts are thought-provoking, and real. I sent a hundred hard-earned bucks to the candidate of

my choice, on top of the twenty I sent yesterday; and a higher-than-usual Star membership contribution to DU. It's time to amp up the contributions; in whatever form they take. The stakes are too high to hedge our bets.

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Response to NBachers (Reply #14)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 09:46 AM

17. Thank you!

Financial contributions to the candidates one favors are extremely important. Phone calls, e-mails and letters to elected representatives, letters-to--the-editor, attending rallies, etc, are all extremely important, too. To confront the assault on democracy, we have to exercise our constitutional rights. It all has to start at the grass roots level.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 09:00 PM

15. Excellent read.

I truly enjoy all of your essays and your positive nature which is sorely needed these days. Thank you for your optimism and please keep sharing your thoughts.

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Response to llmart (Reply #15)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 09:50 AM

19. Thanks!

I appreciate it! And I will continue to post my thoughts here. More, I'm waiting now for answers to questions I sent to a national figure, who agreed to do an interview for this forum. In my opinion, she has the most important things to say about the nature of the threat that confronts us.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #19)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 09:55 AM

20. Wow!

I'm looking forward to that post.

I still believe that there are worse things to come before things get better. Yesterday's vindictive actions by the mad man in our White House are just the beginning.

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Response to llmart (Reply #20)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 10:28 AM

23. Oh, yes.

There are going to be worse things before it improves. We can be sure of that. But what we can control is how we respond to those things.

Let me give an example, going back to 1998. My nephew was a scholar-athlete in his senior year in high school. He was getting a lot of good press, and offers of college scholarships. This upset a hate group from a nearby town, who didn't think a black kid should get such attention. So one night, 17 men attacked my nephew in a dark field, beat him viciously, and left him for dead.

But he lived. And three of the 17 thugs were arrested. We knew that the local justice system would treat a white gang that attacked a black person, far differently than a black gang that attacked a white person. And it did. A friend in the DA's office argued for charging the thugs with attempted murder, but told me the DA was buddies with the defense attorney for the gange leader, and was going to deal us a hand from the bottom of the deck.

Hence, my job was two-fold. Keep my nephew's young friends from going for violent revenge, as they wanted to do, and try the case in the court of public opinion. Two regional chapters of the NAACP attended every court date. The media came from far and wide to report on the violent case, and the failure of the justice system. One of my favorite parts was when that lead defens attorney tried to debate me while the television cameras filmed us outside the court. I made him lose his temper, and make a fool of himself.

The gange leader got a $50 fine for having an open beer while kicking my unconscious nephew more than a dozen times. Nothing for the assault. But we won in the public court. That DA and local town justice lost office in the next election. And we had presented important information to the public about systematic racism.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #23)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 11:58 AM

24. Oh, my.

I got choked up with your story of your nephew. How absolutely awful that he had to experience this. I remember when President Obama was elected and I watched his inauguration on the TV in my living room, sitting there bawling my eyes out thinking, "we have finally turned a corner in this country". Does it get better with each passing generation. One can only hope. In many ways it has gotten better, but it seems we always have to stay vigilant and aware and not get too complacent.

Your nephew was so lucky to have you.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 11:15 PM

16. That was powerful,

and oddly comforting at the end of a day filled with bad news.

Thank you.

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Response to crickets (Reply #16)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 10:06 AM

21. Thanks crickets!

I know that this is a hard time for Good People. And I recognize the severity of the threat we are confronted with. We are in a tough fight, for sure. But we have the ability to win this most important battle, and I'm 100% confident that we will.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 09:47 AM

18. You deliver some great analogies

Thanks for this

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Response to malaise (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 10:08 AM

22. Thank you!

I try to add my two cents.

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