I've been reading a lot lately about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD for short. My reasons for doing so involve people in long-playing difficulties of the sort which I don't want to discuss on this particular blog. However, in my reading I have discovered a few principles which seem to apply to the current world situation, and to the response of the people and politicians of the United States to that situation.
One of the things which has impressed me about NPD is the way in which malignant narcissists blame their victims for the abuse perpetrated by the narcissists. Often the blaming takes place as part of a combat which is solely verbal. Even when the combat is confined to the merely verbal, the narcissist's blaming tactics can become quite bizarre, to the point of reality-altering distortions of events (also known as “gaslighting”). But without a doubt, one of the most bizarre instances of victim-blaming and gaslighting of which I have read involved physical violence. It seems that while a narcissist woman was physically attacking her sister (who did nothing to retaliate), the attacker started yelling through open windows demanding that the victim stop attacking! (What Makes Narcissists Tick, 2004-2007, Kathleen Krajco, pg. 196.)
Which brings us to current events. I am in Southern California this weekend to visit family, and as I did during my last trip, this time I rode the Amtrak train down here. I had dinner in the dining car, sharing a table with an elderly retired couple who live in Klamath Falls, Oregon. We didn't really hit it off very well, though there were attempts at polite conversation. One of the difficult points came when the wife mentioned recent weather in Klamath Falls, observing that there had been a few days this summer during which the temperature had gotten above 90 degrees, and that “we usually never get that hot! Usually the temperature doesn't get much above 80!”
“Well,” I remarked, levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have recently exceeded 400 parts per million. What you are experiencing is a consequence of climate change.”
“Yes,” she said, “and I think the whole world should do its part to reduce pollution,” indicating by her tone and emphasis that she considered the rest of the world to be equally as culpable as the United States.
“The United States has five percent of the world's population and uses over a third of the world's natural resources,” I replied.
“Yes, but there's lots of pollution in other countries,” she replied, a bit desperately.
“That's because the United States has exported much of its manufacturing capacity to those countries,” I rejoined.
“And that's terrible,” she said, then, “and I'm sure you don't want to wreck a perfectly good evening.” Then her husband started talking. “What college did you graduate from, since you've been saying all this about global warming?” I told him, having earlier told him that I had an engineering degree. “Good school,” he remarked. The conversation died out shortly thereafter. Later in the evening, I thought, “How American – to blame others for the problems we ourselves cause.”
I got off the train at Bakersfield, having discovered that one can make the remainder of the trip from Bakersfield to So. Cal. much more quickly by car than by train. While driving a rental the remainder of the distance to my destination, I tuned in to KNX Radio 1070, a CBS news station whose broadcasts cover most of Southern California. I was listening to the news that the United States is preparing to attack Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons against its own citizens, and that no other nation on earth supports the United States in this course of action. I also heard a great deal of hand-wringing on the part of spokesmen describing the “terrible humanitarian toll which has been exacted by the ongoing civil strife in Syria.”
Having learned long ago to read between the lines of mainstream news, I know that American eagerness to attack Syria has nothing to do with “democracy” or alleged cruelty by the Syrian government toward its people or the possible existence of weapons of mass destruction. It has everything to do with the fact that the United States is hopelessly addicted to a lifestyle of undeserved extravagance, and that this country can no longer afford to pay for that extravagance. Therefore, we are exporting violence to the remaining corners of the earth in which significant reserves of natural resources (particularly, oil) may be found, in order to obtain something for seemingly almost nothing. Our glorious country has therefore tried a steadily escalating series of destabilizing moves designed to remove the sovereign government of Syria, starting with trying to engineer a “revolution” through means of mercenaries.
Now we are at the point where, “while beating Sue [Syria], Mary [the United States] screams at her to stop attacking.” Naturally, we will try to scream loud enough for the neighbors to hear. But by now, the neighbors have our number.