Yesterday I couldn't understand how so many people don't grasp what Noam Chomsky says about our existential threat, in this post.
Upon further reflection, I’ve realized that my inability to fully grasp the power of self-deception as a coping mechanism has cultural roots. My attraction to Partnership subcultures and values has been a lifelong self-actualization process. I now feel integrated enough, authentic enough, that self-deception seemed at first incomprehensible as a coping mechanism. Because my personal strength developed as a result of discovering ways in which I had been deceiving myself all along, and overcoming them, I’d forgotten my prior mind set.
I forgot that White Fragility and demonizing others feels natural in a hierarchical male-dominant world. When access to resources is determined by fighting, members of a society can’t afford to be honest with others about their weaknesses. The boy who shares his failures or fears with peers will find them weaponized to mock and humiliate him. Rank is based on competitive invidious comparison.
Nor can people be honest with themselves. We cultivate a self-concept optimized for social combat. Self-righteous “strength”, being sure of your superiority, is a confidence edge. Systemic pressure to deny feelings or features of your personality that would lead to ridicule is ubiquitous. We internalize shame heaped upon us by those higher in the hierarchy, feeling unworthy. Group cohesion is based, in part, on shared validation of in-group superiority to outsiders. Our society is structurally hostile to authenticity and empathy.
Dominator Culture isn’t a safe space for honest sharing. When someone of higher status seems to offer you comfort and emotional support, they likely have something to gain - like inducing you to be their follower (which makes their apparent validation conditional and manipulative). Women, reduced to support roles, are most likely to give honest validation.
A series of consciousness raising experiences, such as deconversion, feminist consciousness raising, and learning about my own racism, allowed me to knit together wholeness. Add in endless disappointments about the larger society, learning about the cover ups and lies upon which civic pride and the definition of being an American were built. “We” turned out to be so much uglier than my family, my school, and numerous institutions purported.
None of these revelations could have contributed to my personal growth had I not had a supportive female-dominant family.
Where's the irony? As I see it, people well adjusted to extremist right wing culture necessarily internalize self deception and contradiction. This could be portrayed as "Head of a Woman (Portrait of the Artist's Mother)," by Juan Gris.
We thus contort ourselves to avoid embracing ugly truths about ourselves. This renders us, unfortunately, less able to face the ugly existential risks we create.
Only when we're authentic, honest with ourselves, can we feel psychologically safe enough to see the end-of-world threats of which Noam Chomsky speaks.
It's said in order to love others, one must first love oneself. It seems that in order to see how fractured our only world is becoming, we must first find our inner fractures and heal them.
Partnership is the only possible future.
>Partnership is the only possible future.
As Charles Eisenstein put it,
Well said, Bertold. Generous love is a perfect example of what we need to use as a substitute for ruthless attacks on one another.
Nafeez Ahmed grasps, in an abstract hand-waving way, our need to invent a better civilization so we don't exterminate ourselves through climate destabilization. He grasps the role of personal transformation, to stop lying to ourselves. I wish his ideas were tied to Partnership study, and were more particular and personal.
In ourselves, the task ahead is for each of us to become the seeds of that new, potential civilisational form — ‘another world’ which is waiting to be birthed not through some far-flung ‘revolution’ in the future, but here and now through the transformations we undertake in ourselves and in our contexts.
We first wake up. We wake up to the reality of what is happening in the world. We then wake up to our own complicity in that reality and truly face up to the intricate acts of self-deception we routinely undertake to conceal ourselves from this complicity. We then look to mobilise ourselves anew to undo these threads of complicity where feasible, and to create new patterns of work and play that connect us back with the Earth and the Cosmos. And we work to connect our own re-patterning with the re-patterning work of others, with a view to plant the seed-networks of the next system — a system which is not so much ‘next’, but here and now, emergent in the fresh choices we make everyday. [emphasis mine]