Self-Criticism and Identifying Demopaths: A Pressing Agendum for the Humanities in the 21st Century

Self-Criticism and the Humanities

Let me begin with a paean of praise for one of the most overlooked but essential dimensions of both the “humanities” and of democracy: Self-criticism. The ability to look inside oneself – or one’s culture – and introspect, to appraise another’s rebuke, honestly admit wrongdoing rather than point the finger, constitutes, in my opinion, one of the most important moral values and priorities of a humane culture. Without self-criticism, one cannot grow; one cannot learn from one’s mistakes. Without it, modern science is impossible. Without it, one cannot empathize with “the other”; one cannot listen well to another’s narrative.

With it, one can move into a larger world populated by other sentient beings, with whom we interact. With it we can hear other narratives, other experiences, other worlds. Like Montaigne, we become humanists by examining our own, and others’ experience; by seeing the world through our own doors of perception, cleansed of the blinding force of unexamined egotism; and then, as Robert Burns would say, “to see ourselves as others see us.”

From such introspection springs genuine tolerance – not the easy tolerance of indifference, but the passionate tolerance that can understand how someone else can see and experience the world in profoundly different ways. And from it arises real freedom, or, as Hegel might say in a moment of laconic lucidity: we are only free when we grant others freedom. In so doing, we can overcome that bane of human freedom, the principle that has governed most political and international relations for the past five millennia at least: “rule or be ruled.” Eli Sagan calls this the “paranoid imperative” because it projects ones own desires to dominate onto the “other” and justifies aggression as defense. Only empathic self-criticism can break the grip of that imperative.

Self-criticism plays a key role in morality: without it, moral behavior is impossible.

Thus, self-criticism is an ongoing process. To overcome the paranoid imperative takes constant work. Otherwise even the most fruitful and mutually beneficial relations can spiral down into mutual suspicion and hostility. This holds for relationships with family and friends as it does with business partners and colleagues, with neighbors and neighboring peoples. And only through positive-sum possibilities can we escape the world in which war is the first answer: “plunder or be plundered.” Only with self-criticism can we live in peace. It is, therefore, no accident, that the emergence of democracy and freedom of speech correlate closely with cultures of self-criticism. So let me conclude the first section of my talk by arguing that we consider self-criticism one of the key components of any humane humanism, and that we cultivate its arts.


For all its bounteous gifts, self-criticism does not come easily. Honest self-inspection demands great emotional courage; it is deeply painful to us to realize our inadequacies, much less to admit them, even to our most intimate loves. And if the silent, whispered self-criticism is painful, how much the more public admission of weakness, of error, of fault! Losing face! How humiliating! How damaging in the eyes of others! How vulnerable! How dangerous! “Here in France,” a friend explained to me, “no one admits they’re wrong. It would be seen as a sign of weakness, it could be fatal.”

Indeed, it turns out, few cultures take introspection – a fortiori public self-criticism – as a high value. On the contrary, the vast majority of political cultures work hard to avoid any embarrassment to those in power. No medieval person would ever have expected – or wanted – to be governed by someone who had been through so humiliating an experience as that one through which we Americans put all our presidential candidates. For us, it is trial by fire that only gets worse once the president – democrat or republican – gets in office; for most pre-modern cultures, to diss a ruler in that fashion was to court the collapse of the social order. On the contrary, the behavior of a king was, by definition, opaque to the public gaze; no one could hold him accountable. And anyone who tried, ran the likely risk of death.

Thus self-criticism, especially on any kind of large, culture-wide scale, is doubly difficult. Not only does the human psyche rebel against public humiliation and loss of face, but self-criticism only really works if the “other” also engages in the art. Self-criticism entails the doubly difficult art of reciprocity, of both accepting and giving rebuke. And despite the pain in admitting wrongdoing, I suspect that delivering rebuke successfully is actually far more difficult.

And yet only when a society can organize a system of reciprocal criticism, in which the people and their rulers can rebuke each other, can one even hope to launch a democracy. Most polities adopt the paranoid position of systematic suspicion of bad faith: rule or be ruled. Notes Eli Sagan, the man who identified the role of this thinking in political structures: “Democracy, is a miracle, considering human psychological disabilities.”

So if even a city-state like Athens, for a couple of centuries, represents a political miracle, how much the more difficult, to launch a civilization-wide project of constitutional states based on the principle of equality before the law, backed up with free speech. That represents an unprecedented accomplishment in the history of civilization. And we today, at the dawn of the 21st century in the West, have the honor and privilege of inheriting that noble and rare experiment in freedom and moral self-criticism.

Problems: The Pathologies of Self-Criticism and Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome

Like all potent and difficult psychological talents, however, self-critcism has its pathologies. Whereas most people dislike and avoid self-criticism at all costs, some few find it exhilarating, and engage in it unilaterally. This passion for self-criticism has created, in our day, a kind messianic pathology, what I call masochistic omnipotence syndrome, in which, “everything is our fault, and if only we could be better, we could fix anything.”

To this end, we forfeit normal protections. “Who are we to judge?” we say, as we accept as valid the stories and deeds of the oppressed “other,” no matter how dishonest the narrative and its intentions might be. “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter,” we solemnly repeat as if the two were mutually exclusive rather than independent identities, and, alas, all too often joint-identities. From moral equivalence: “We’re as bad as you are”; to moral inversion: “No, we’re worse than you are.” The Muslim terrorists who blow up fellow Muslims at prayer in Iraq are thus to Michael Moore “Minute Men” resisting American soldiers who represent the forces of the evil empire. And if we just do this kind of moral reckoning enough, we seem to reason, we will eventually elicit good will and negotiate an end to all conflicts. “War,” we all know, “is not the answer.” We have the responsibility to repent for our imperialism and ask forgiveness for our crimes against native peoples. And all of this might be reasonable in the framework of good intentions on both sides.

But some use these principles to criticize us, not because they respect and admire the values they invoke, but only because of the positional advantage it gives them. They have no intention of reciprocating. They do not believe in these values, and they see us as irremediably stupid and effeminate for embracing self-criticism and commitments to treating others fairly. To paraphrase Thucydides and Nietzsche, they only whine about fairness and resent the strong because they themselves are now weak; were they strong, they would dominate without hesitation.

For them, our self-criticism registers as signs of weakness and an invitations to further aggression. The vulnerability we painfully but magnanimously adopt triggers not reciprocity and reconciliation, but predatory hopes.

Let’s call these players demopaths. “They use democracy to destroy democracy.” They are not along for a free ride. They are hostile agents, and opening up to them is counter-indicated. No creature – no matter how powerful – who cannot detect hostile intent will long endure. And those who treat the accusations of demopaths as “in good faith,” who embrace the rebuke without concern for the effects, are their dupes, who empower demopaths even as they weaken the self-criticizers.

In the 21st century, already, demopaths and their dupes have already established a major beachhead with the language of human rights. At Durban, in the summer of 2001, a major conference against racism turned into a hate-fest of demonization, in which America’s heinous role in the 19th century slave trade, it’s genocide of native Americans, received prominent attention while the Àrab world’s ongoing slave trade and acts of genocide against black Africans, never got mentioned. And Western human rights NGOs played a key role in legitimating the proceedings.

Durban was a moral travesty of terrifyingly Orwellian dimensions. Its silences enabled the genocide in Darfur, the ongoing slavery in Mauretania and Saudi Arabia, even as it encouraged many in the world – including in the US – to view 9-11 as payback. And in 2009, we can expect not a self-critical repentance for the moral madness of Durban one, but a Durban II that will pick up where the first left off. Dupes and their demopaths… global victories for the haters.

Demopathy occurs on a daily basis. In yesterday’s Washington Post, one of the founders of Hamas, an organization with a certifiably paranoid and genocidal charter, whose preachers speak of a generation-long war against the West that only begins with the destruction of Israel and moves on from there to the taking of the crusader capital, Rome and a generation-long war of conquest of Europe and the two Americas, wrote an editorial entitled, “No Peace without Hamas.” This is information warfare, and it seeks dupes eager to proclaim “peace in our time.”

The collaboration of demopaths and their dupes leave their traces everywhere, including an allegedly feminist discourse that makes moral equivalence between private school dress codes demanding modesty among girls and a Taliban theocracy that threw acid in the face of women who did not go out veiled. Thus the terrifying silence of many feminists about the treatment of women in the Muslim world.

This is no laughing matter, despite how ludicrous some of these cases might seem. We who are privileged to inherent the wondrous – indeed the miraculous – world of a free society tend to take it for granted. We take self-criticism for granted.

But no. Democracy is an exceptionally difficult accomplishment, and among its demands, one of the most exceptionally difficult, is a culture of self-criticism. To assume everyone wants what we wants, that every other culture and religious tradition has made the transition from theocratic ambitions to the free and tolerant acceptance of the religious other in a secular political sphere, is folly. When we compensate for a lack of self-criticism among those hostile to us, by redoubling out own self-criticism; when we fail to challenge others to engage in self-criticism lest we embarrass them or hurt their feelings; when we prevent ourselves from accurately assessing other cultures lest we make politically incorrect statements, we only make things worse.

In fact, we actually deny autonomy to the “other” – he becomes a cipher for our politically-correct imagination – and we strengthen the very forces that lead to war, even as we pursue peace. Rather than show them the respect of expecting them to self-criticize when appropriate, we condescend, treat them as incapable, compensate for their failures rather than embarrass them by drawing some moral lines. This silent prejudice of no-expectations treats the “other” as an animal: no one rebukes a cat for mousing. And in so doing, we betray not only our own hard-fought accomplishments, but all those people in the world – the women, the slaves, the victims of genocide – who are crushed by merciless elites. “He who is merciful to the cruel will be cruel to the merciful,” says the Talmud

Alas, when those cruel elites turn to us and say, “how dare you criticize us; first remove the beam in your eye,” we don’t have the nerve to laugh in their face and, say, “who do you take us for, fools?”

Well demopaths do take us for moral fools, and most often they’re right. If we do not have the courage to stand up for our exceptional moral accomplishments and talents, if our humanists of the 21st century don’t learn to identify and confront demopaths, then the humanities of the 21st century will be neither triumphant, nor a participant in a peaceful and prosperous world.

25 Responses to Self-Criticism and Identifying Demopaths: A Pressing Agendum for the Humanities in the 21st Century

  1. David says:

    Well said. But this strikes me as a sermon to the choir.

    The problem I’ve begun to wrestle with is formulating an approach to these issues that will breach the moral certainty of the dupes. Many of them are (I hope, I pray) well-intentioned and ignorant, if arrogant and ideological. How do we get around the latter (arrogance & ideology) to speak to (intentions) and erase (ignorance) the former?

    I have had few opportunities to try and no successes. I’m leaning toward simply calling the dupes on their anti-arab racism in the hopes of getting them to listen a little. But I can’t say I think it’ll work.

    Any one have any better ideas?

  2. Hulkamaniac says:

    Dr. Landes,
    Bravo – you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head here. Outstanding essay!

    In fact, I applaud all your work on this website. You’ve aptly articulated the biggest problem that the modern progressive movement has today – that of the far left anarchists (Demopaths), who are to liberals what the far-right nutters are to conservatives (neo-cons).

    Realize you’ve now called for an all-out war on Demopaths who will stop at nothing to show what a __________ you are. Fill-in the blank with hater, anti-arab, neo-con, etc. Of course, the very same ways in which they will try to discredit you are tactics you are very well aware of, and which you can see coming from a mile away.

    I wish you the best in your ongoing efforts for truth, honesty, integrity, and tolerance – traits that many Demopaths claim to have but do not.

    Are you aware of the IDF video footage of Rachel Corrie’s death that Lee Kaplan has brought to light recently? Here’s part 1 on youtube:

    I wonder what your thoughts are on this.

    Thank you.

  3. Shriber says:

    Someone said that traditional Jew hatred views Jews as evil while today’s Islamo-Nazi antisemitism view evil as Jewish.

    I am afraid that we are not taking antisemitism today very seriously. The New York is not an antisemitic paper but you can find excuses uses for antisemitic views in its book review section and sometimes in its Sunday magazine.

    This week there is a review of a book by the anti-Zionist and antisemitic enabler Tony Judt by Geoffrey Wheatcroft a British writer and also an virulent anti Zionist. Of course Wheatcroft gave high praise to Judt’s tendentious essays. The essay where supposed to be about historical events but more than 75 percent of the review concentrated on Judt’s “courageous” anti-Zionism.

    He claimed as many antisemites do today that being anti-Israel does no make one an antisemite and had the chutzpah to go on to say that any one who calls an antizionist and antisemite is endangering the Jews. Really more than half of world Jewry lives in Israel and to suggest that antizionism is not really antisemitism is like claiming that just because one hates “Jewish” bankers” one isn’t really an antisemite.

    What concerns me is the spreading of a cultural or (soft) kind of antizionism by major liberal publication like the New York Times and The New Yorker will eventually weaken or will to fight against the attempt to destroy the Jewish State.

    First they delegitimize and dehumanize, the person, the culture, the State then they murder the people of that culture or State.

    That the New York Times would publish such nonsense is beyond me. The paper lost more than 300 thousand dollars last quarter. If they keep this up they will lose more than that. Personally I hope they go out of business. Their record on Jewish issues has been pretty dismal from the 1930’s on.

    We need to speak out against articles like this one and not just against overt attacks on Jews from whatever quarter.

  4. oao says:

    praying to the choir, indeed. those who do not comprehend such obvious stuff have no hope.

    If we do not have the courage? Methinks it’s been established with certainty that we don’t.


    i wish you luck, but been there, done that. hopeless. the west must fall to comprehend.


    i dk of many anti-semites who would admit to themselves, let alone to others, that that’s what they are.

    antisemitism goes up in periods of crisis, when scapegoating is expedient and relieves ones precisely from self-criticism. the jews are simply a convenient target, because there is no price attached to it (try islamophobia and see what you get). the west is declining due to its own decadence and, afraid of the rising islamism, deludes itself that it can save itself by sacrificing the jews (and rid itself of its shameful history at the same time).

    as to judt, the best review i’ve seen was by wieselthier, who argues that judt reproduces antisemitism rather than rejects it. it’s precisely the type of ideological and moral arrogance that david refers to.


  5. Hard Rain says:

    To quote something I read on this blog a long time ago:

    “The fundamental freedom, the one we can exercise at any moment in our lives, is the freedom to speak honestly, to challenge, no matter what the danger, the embarrassment, the ostracism, the economic hardship, the physical aggression. So this I say to all those who believe in the effort to establish a just and free society: Speak up!”

  6. Cynic says:


    That the New York Times would publish such nonsense is beyond me.

    For the past 60 odd years the NYT has done nothing but enable the disparagement of Jews by denying them the same status with regard to behaviour and thought that they willingly concede to everybody else.
    For starters just look back at their coverage of things Jewish during the Second World War;
    There is an underlying nastiness in the hypocrisy and insincerity applied to things Jewish. Maybe it stems from their owners who appear to be the Judts, Finkelsteins et al of the media? (People should also add the name of “Ronnie Kasrils”, South Africa’s Minister of “Intelligence” to the Judt group while his pal Mugabe slaughters his, Mugabe’s, opposition)



  7. Cynic says:

    Apology for misplacing the links that relate to the NYT.

  8. Cynic says:

    Was my comment removed, with links to American Thinker?
    It was there, before comment 5, a few hours ago.

  9. Michael B says:

    “In fact, we actually deny autonomy to the “other” – he becomes a cipher for our politically-correct imagination – and we strengthen the very forces that lead to war, even as we pursue peace.”

    Precisely. We in fact do deny any genuine and mature autonomy to the “other” and reduce him or her to mere ciphers in the manner of a paternalism, an ideologically and egoistically invested paternalism. The remainder of the final three graphs is a superb summary as well. There is much to be explored here, it reflects a particularly rich vein, both on and beneath the surface of things, one needing conscientious and perspicacious and sober reflection – and then the will to act and to be, differently. Absent that, we will be condemned to no-exit purgatories such as the “peace” process, in perpetuity.

    Not a lovely thought but that is precisely what we invite. To will and to do, to act and to be, differently, is the challenge. Whether that challenge, that mantle, will be assumed – or eschewed and rejected – very much remains to be seen. And act comes before being, not after.

    (And, preemptively, yes, that obviously invokes the idea of change, but it invokes change not at all in an Obama-like manner – as sloganeering and feel-goodism and manifestation of BDS, etc. – but rather in a manner that reaches deep into individual identity and responsibility and choices – and eschews the temptation to project the need for change into a charismatic politics-of-personality figure such as a BHO.)

  10. unk says:

    RL, I think you are correct, but I would add just one slight critique. This website is often right-on about criticizing the “other” but very rarely if ever engages in the self criticism discussed in this very interesting piece. When is the last time an Israeli action was criticized here?

    oao.. same question to you. when is the last time you criticized anything israel has done?

  11. Cynic says:

    whose preachers speak of a generation-long war against the West that only begins with the destruction of Israel and moves on from there to ….

    Maybe you should have included links to the videos for any demopaths reading this?

    Abbas Zaki talks of the phased plan…>

    We will conquer Rome …

    Ah! But then of course they are brought to one by MEMRI …… and those “Dems” (pun intended) know of course that anything said by Jews …….

  12. N00man says:

    I had similar thoughts recently when I came across a phrase in a review in most recent Proceedings of the Modern Language Association— I paraphrase: “The two linchpins of progressive politics, hospitality to the other and perpetual self-critique. . .” I agree with that characterization, as long as hospitality doesn’t mean submission, and critique, abnegation.

  13. Ruth says:

    The sentence you quoted is from Pirkei Avot

  14. Cynic says:

    When is the last time an Israeli action was criticized here?
    Why should we?
    When was the last time you criticized anything the Arabs did?
    Give us the Israeli actions we should be criticizing, but within the context that is so often ignored.
    Let us start with the massacre of Jews in Hebron in the 1920s and take it from there.
    Let us not ignore the UN’s denouncing the Israeli’s attempt to introduce electricity, piped water, roads and decent housing for the Arabs in Gaza, medical clinics, hospitals and schools which the Arab brotherhood at large denied the Gazans.
    Let us not ignore the terrorist attacks from Egypt and Jordan into Israel in the 50s and 60s etc, etc, and of course within months of Arafat signing the Oslo peace plan on the Whitehouse lawn the first of many suicide bomb attacks against women and children.
    Why didn’t you criticize Arafat when in South Africa straight after the “signing” on the Whitehouse lawn, he spoke of the treaty Mohammad made with the Jews of Mecca and all its implications?

    Let’s level the playing field of nastiness and admit that Abu Graib compares with the horrors of Arab regime’s behaviour.
    Come on, find a Jewish equivalent of Hamas throwing a live Arab off the multi story building because he cooked food for Abbas.
    Ah yes, those nasty IsraelisJews putting up up barriers to block those deficient children from taking explosives through, or mothers and their baby pushcarts laden with bombs, or ambulances with gurneys covering arms and explosives, to blow up other children eating pizza.
    You and people like you are a repository for taqyia.
    Yes, Israelis are rude, cheeky (Chutzpadik) and don’t give a cigarette butt what you think but how would you be reacting if you had to make do with day to day coping of what has been thrown at them these past 60 years? Cringing in the gutter and crying that Wilders is rocking the boat?
    Go troll somewhere else.

  15. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic, I have a different answer for unk. In my opinion, the cruelest thing that any Israeli government has done to the Arabs since the Six Day War was allowing arafat to set up a government over them, first in 1994 in Gaza and Jericho, then in Dec 1995 and early 1996 in a series of cities in Judea-Samaria, starting with Bethlehem, then going through Ramallah, Nablus [Sh’khem], Jenin, Tulkarem, etc. That was cruel to them, especially to the Arabic-speaking Christian minority. But bear in mind that it was done at the behest of Pres Bill Clinton who met acting PM Peres at Rabin’s funeral and asked when Israel was going to withdraw. Since the signing of the Oslo accords in 9-1993, there has been much suffering in the Land of Israel on both sides. Thousands of Arabs and Jews have been killed. The PLO govt –called the palestinian authority– has wrecked the economy in the zones that it controls and Israel can’t employ these Arabs because they are being constantly incited by their govt and media and schools and mosques to go kill Jews. Many Arabs have emigrated from the PA/PLO zones because of the bad economic and security situations in those places, which is often simply anarchy. That’s the kind of peace that the peace process has brought.

    So I say, unk, that a lot of the bad things that Israel has done were done because of Western pressure on Israel [including the EU, UK, USA] to give the PLO what it was demanding. God forbid that anybody should listen to carter, who is an extremely repulsive creature, not especially intellectual but as deceitful as a snake.

  16. oao says:


    oao.. same question to you. when is the last time you criticized anything israel has done?

    are you serious? i constantly criticize israel for its crisis of leadership and its lunatic left; its military for incompetence in the recent days in gaza and in the lebanon war; the israeli political system which keeps failures like olmert as PM and gives the religious parties too much power; the signing of the oslo accord. you name it.

    but i’ll bet you anything that’s not the criticism you want, right?

    the thing is, relative to the arab barbarians israel is saintly.

  17. oao says:


    i think you can list what the arabs did until you’re blue in the face (there is enough to list) and oink won’t change his tune. he NEEDS israel criticism.

    and eliyahu is right, of course.

  18. Cynic says:

    How closely did you follow events in the 80s with J (F the Js) Baker and co? They certainly played a big part in the mess we face nowadays.
    They were the ones who sealed Arafat as the only leader of the “Palestinians”. Had they not gone along with the UN crowd Arafat would have died in Tunis.
    But then they also made one big mess in Lebanon as they “realistically” faced the “Foreign Legion” of Dhimma Carter’s creation! (Don’t blame Reagan; he could only go along with what Baker, Weinberger and Bush’s pa let on).
    And today we have Rice, protege of Djerijian (Baker’s right hand) realistically equating roadblocks against terrorists with having to ride in the back of the bus.

    I can certainly criticize the Israelis for not having a proper crowd to counter Arab and other anti-Jewish propaganda.
    For letting things ride on the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” philosophy.
    For not ramming down the throats of the Europeans, for starters, everything they did and continue doing for that herd of ungrateful bi-pedal blood letting specie. Hell even a dog or cat knows not to bite the hand …….

    There goes Ahmed Tibi complaining that they don’t get the same as the Jews (theye’re discriminated against), while his crowd won’t pay rates and taxes for the upkeep of their villages and towns cause “the money goes to the Jews ” and then expect the Jewish taxpayer to fork over the salaries of the municipal workers the mayor cannot, or won’t pay.
    For giving the Arabs autonomy over their education and religion only to have the media, Europeans and Left complain that the Jews get a better education. Now he wants the Arabs in Israel to have complete autonomy, separate from the Jews; so he and his pals can do as Fatah is doing?

    For being too stupid to to brainstorm any future possible outcome of the way they carried out some operations.

  19. oao says:


    the arabs in general and the so-called pals in particular would have self-destructed many times over were it not for the west who saved their butt and propped them up each time they reached a bottom low. arafat, abbas, hamas, hezbollah they were all down and the “international community” saved them. indeed, by funding the only special UN agency to sustain an open-ended status as refugees,the west has directly contributed to the jewish blood.

    the reality is that the world wants to sacrifice the jews for a “truce” with islam.

  20. Cynic says:


    That seems to side with my hypothesis that the Europeans and Others always wanted to get rid of “That Sh**** Little Country” and were looking for means to show clean hands.

  21. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic & oao are right. The West, starting with Britain in 1948, always or almost always saved their tukhes. The two truces in the summer of 1948, in the first war, were meant to protect the Arabs against unexpected Israeli military prowess. The British govt actually sent British forces into battle to fight the Jews. This was true in the battle of Yafo [Jaffa] against the Irgun, when tanks were sent in, in several battles in Jerusalem, especially on the way to Mount Scopus around the Tomb of Simon the Just [Shim`on haTsadiq], and in an aircraft battle over the Rafiah-El-Arish area, in early 1949, I believe. The same pattern has followed in subsequent wars, battles, “intifadas,” etc. Last week, I remarked that the Supreme Allied Council [exact title?] had done something similar to the Greeks when they were winning against the Turks in 1920, approx.

    Then Cynic is right. I fit the very notion –a definite historical novelty– of a “palestinian people” into that theory of his about “clean hands.” They needed a “palestinian people” as an eternal “victim” to hide behind. That’s why the “palestinian people” notion was invented. Those who don’t agree ought to prove that a “palestinian people” existed before the 1960s. I don’t believe that the Arabs themselves invented the PalPpl notion. They didn’t need it to inspire their own ranks, their own masses, for whom the Great Arab Nation and the Ummah Islamiyya were enough.

    For some Westerners though, the PalPpl is seen as a kind of collective Jesus, taking on Jesus’ traditional attributes. Georges Montaudon did this in the fall of 1967 in Temoignage Chretien.

  22. lgude says:

    I am a bit surprised RL’s proposed idea of ‘masochistic omnipotence syndrome’ hasn’t caused more comment. It puts into words a thought I’ve found myself having for a long time. The psychology behind it is eminently recognizable – “everything is our fault, and if only we could be better, we could fix anything’. Like with a lot of human error the initial mistake lies is the assumption that ‘everything is our fault’ which leads to the inflated conclusion that everything is fixable. For example, I am always made uncomfortable by the lack of interest in natural causes of climate change among anthropogenic global warmists – particularly when natural is the only kind of climate change we can be absolutely sure is always a factor. I have no problem with the idea that the huge increase in human activity since 1750 otherwise known as the industrial revolution, has consequences social, ecological and spiritual. What prevents me trusting the green movement is their unconscious masochistic omnipotence. Historically I think Marx has a lot to answer for in creating this syndrome – specifically in the idea that the revolution would lead inevitably to a stateless utopia. Few consciously believe in that idea any more, but all of us moderns are more or less infected with it. It is like a virus that has jiggered our immune system leading us to believe that modernism and a tolerant democratic social order is inevitable and the natural order of things. And that our modern world view is so naturally superior to the preceding religious world view that its succession is….er…irreversible.

  23. oao says:


    Historically I think Marx has a lot to answer for in creating this syndrome – specifically in the idea that the revolution would lead inevitably to a stateless utopia. Few consciously believe in that idea any more, but all of us moderns are more or less infected with it.

    Actually it has infected even the strongest opponents of Marx — the “free-market” capitalists: aren’t they saying that peak oil and environmental destruction will be resolved by technology?

    It is like a virus that has jiggered our immune system leading us to believe that modernism and a tolerant democratic social order is inevitable and the natural order of things.

    Actually history has many examples of just the opposite, rome and germany being prominent.

    And that our modern world view is so naturally superior to the preceding religious world view that its succession is….er…irreversible.

  24. oao says:

    And that our modern world view is so naturally superior to the preceding religious world view that its succession is….er…irreversible.

    Here we part company. Religions were invented when we were almost totally ignorant. So religion should have been discarded, were it not for human fear and desire for control.

  25. […] illustrates the post-modern paradigm, the other side right or wrong, in its most (crypto) Christian form: my enemy right or wrong. […]

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