Ben Debney

MARCH 14, 2021

Pathological Entitlement and the Supremacist Mindset

BY BEN DEBNEY

In recent days, the CPAC conference has brought us a number of most unusual spectacles. It has brought us (1) the militantly tawdry respawning of Donald Trump, (2) the platform constructed using the serif odal rune shape of the SS, (3) the golden calf cult idol (and laughs for all eternity), and (4) the inclusion of a member of Happy Science, a Japanese ‘new religious movement’ whose leader claims to be the incarnation of a 330 million-year-old deity.

The spirit of this deity, it is said, has transmogrified through every other deity known to humankind, and wound up, thanks to some superhuman (and therefore totally not self-serving) coincidence, manifest in the flesh as the founder of CPAC Japan. As another coincidence of mind-melting proportions, this deity is also deeply fiscally conservative and politically reactionary of a bent that views compassion as a weakness. If I didn’t know better, I would think Happy Science (as this ‘new religious movement’ is known) were pulling the entire thing out of their asses, like an even nastier L. Ron Hubbard.

This latter fact in particular must inevitably raise a few questions—principally, whether or not the GOP remains a gaggle of thieves willing to sell each other’s grandmothers out at a moment’s notice to save their own skin politically, an end-of-times spectacle of an increasingly unstable oligarchy too drunk on its own material excess to save itself from its own decadence and corruption? Another question that springs to mind is whether it’s now in fact degenerated even further into something even more horrible again—a raging collective psychosis of pathological entitlement, collective narcissism, hypernationalist tribalism and jingoism, and death-cult supremacism.

For sheer lunacy, the sight of a Trump supporter, flag wrapped around neck, kneels hands-raised to worship the Cheeto God-Emperor, easily contends with the paranoid, sadomasochistic ecstacy of book burnings in 1930s Germany, or the endless thundering applause after one of Stalin’s speeches by terrorised party cadre unwilling to be the first one to stop. Perhaps this new variant on the theme is not yet in a position to be so destructive as some of its predecessors, but the operant word here is yet. If all the spidey senses of history aren’t blaring like an air raid alert, you do really need to read a lot more. We might as well be halfway to sleepwalking your way into the rolling inferno of systemic downward spiral and collapse ourselves.

What is it then, this collective psychosis of pathological entitlement, this rabidly fanatical and militantly ignorant orgy of death-cult supremacism? What does it even mean to be subject to this kind of end-of-days acting out, as the poisonous world you made begins to envelop you like the fires of hell done escaped and you’re dead in every sense bar the biological already?

One might argue that collective psychosis is just that—paranoid delusions that are normalised because everyone inside the cult thinks exactly the same. The truth of an idea is determined by the number of people who believe it, doing what you’re told rather than what’s right is more important than doing what’s right rather than what you’re told, and I’m told that if you think for yourself the terrorists win.

You’re tempted to imagine a conversation between two delegates attending the CPAC conference: —Isn’t it so nice that we can all agree that casting doubt on the allegation that the class interests of transnational corporate oligarchs and the common interests of humanity are the exact same gives aid to the forces of global communism, or muslamic fundamentalists, or witches? —Hang on, I’m confused now. What were we talking about again? Was it what a great substitute the ideological conformity of the ingroup centred around the individualist consumerism and narcissistic culture of the ruling class is for being in touch with who I am and what I’m about as an individual? —I think it might have been, yeah. —Oh well that’s good, that makes sense. If you can’t see what’s good about worshipping money with the fanaticism you problematise in the case of Islamic fundamentalists you’re clearly a communist, whatever the hell that is, so I don’t even need to see you as a human being anymore. —Agreed.

The pathological entitlement on display in the set of assumptions and the value system and its attendant priorities here is impossible to miss—a characteristic feature, one might argue, of a magical universe of ideological fantasy constructed out of a desire to turn the living, breathing world rooted into empirically verifiable causality into a Live Action Role Play simulation, with the most privileged and powerful actors as the noblest and most superior. Privilege and virtue are the same thing, and anyone who says otherwise loves Joseph Stalin.

What is the great value of LARP, its imaginativeness? What if we could weaponise a gaming tool to enforce total obedience and conformity with a performative parody of reality where causality, honesty and human feelings like compassion and empathy didn’t have to matter? Wouldn’t that just be SO much less work? What if we could take healthy and constructive interpersonal and social relations predicated on reciprocal justice, fairness and respect, and crush them with all the prejudice we can muster as threats to power and privilege, but do so with a self-serving fantasy where we could cast ourselves as the heroes rather than the villains?

As long as we have enough people to play the game we can rely on tribalism, groupthink, ostracism, the collective narcissism of privileged ingroups, moral panics and a permanent victim complex to avoid facts that don’t fit the narrative; look at Ben Schapiro, he juggles them all at once. Every self-absorbed, self-centred money cultist is having orgiastic conniptions as they wet themselves.

To a class that has usurped the public realm and reversed the democratic burden of proof on power to justify itself to the individual, a cultish worship of total power and those who wield it is the ideal condition for the maintenance and preservation of the kind of power formerly associated with kings. The transnational corporate oligarchy is, however, more powerful now than medieval kings ever were; their rolling back of the gains of the democratic revolutions of recent centuries a central part of their purposes in constructing a New Feudalism.

Just like the kings of old, the corporate aristocracy abides the entitlement of hereditary power—not primarily political power, in this instance, but economic power. Class power. The corporate aristocracy dances with the corpse of liberal democracy, an entity it owns like any other of its many, many subsidiaries, and claims that the hereditary power of kings is dead, as it is.

At the same time, the infernal dance also serves to hide the hereditary power of inheritance—the death of liberal democracy insofar as transnational corporations have equal rights under the law, as they do. The law cannot serve two masters, a problem it resolves by deferring to the greater power. And the greater power these days is one drunk on its own power, so drunk that it imagines its hereditary class tyranny more important than the freedoms of the individual and human rights.

So drunk is the corporate aristocracy on its autocratic, indeed increasingly hereditary power that it imagines itself entitled to lord over the world with even greater and more total power than even the worst monarch. The consequences, from the increasing immiseration of most of the world’s population alongside unprecedented concentrations of wealth to corporate capture of the political process and the annihilation of the natural ecology, are becoming ever more impossible for them to hide.

And so we find ourselves, as usual, beset with all sorts of phantoms and external threats to society—the defence of which, it is alleged, requires strong leaders, whose class interests, by some incredible coincidence, are the exact same thing. We do not need to tolerate this lie, however, any more than we need to tolerate any of the abuses and harms it serves to hide. We can, on the contrary, identify one another by common class interests and organise to defend rights and advance interests. We can do what’s right rather than what we’re told, and stand in front of freedom and defend it for all, instead of hiding behind it like cowards.

On this basis then, we can organise and right for reforms to ‘expand the floor of the cage,’ while using means consistent with ends (as means determine ends from a casual standpoint) to rise above the supremacist thinking and mentalities that creates all these problems in the first place. But we have to appreciate exactly what it is we’re dealing with first, lest we apply the thinking that created the problem in the first place in the process of trying to combat it, and turn into everything we claim to oppose. If things have been allowed to get this rotten, maybe this has something to do with the reasons why.

Ben Debney is a PhD candidate in history at Western Sydney University, Bankstown. He is the author of The Oldest Trick in the Book: Panic-Driven Scapegoating in History and Recurring Patterns of Persecution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).   

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