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Behavioral Psychology and its Practical Implications – The Great Courses Daily News

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FROM THE LECTURE SERIES: Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science

Burrhus Frederic Skinner, a Harvard psychologist, who was influenced by logical positivists, adopted Watsons work. He, too, was interested in studying human behavior in response to certain stimuli. He found a mathematical relationship between environmental factors and human responses as well as the influence of positive and negative reinforcement on such responses. For example, he studied how room temperature influenced how long it would take a subject to drink a glass of water. Even further, he observed how reward and punishment would make the subjects behave in specific ways that he wanted.

These findings had both theoretical and practical implications. They helped gain knowledge about the structure of reality and also to manipulate people.

Skinner wrote a book titled Beyond Freedom and Dignity, which was reminiscent of Friedrich Nietzsches book Beyond Good and Evil. According to Nietzsche, good and evil are not inherent properties of the world. They are human-made features manufactured by the weak to restrict the strong, which has helped the weak prosper and keep the strong behind. Thats why human progress has been restrained. Similarly, Skinner held that moral concepts of freedom and dignity are not features of the world. They are created to glorify the individual and have retarded human development.

Rather than autonomous agents capable of rational thinking, human beings are regarded as creatures of habit. If these habits are shaped randomly, they will have no consequences for us. If they are correctly shaped, they can lead to our advancement. They can also be formed in a way that they limit human progress. The only way to achieve human growth is to identify the best culture that contributes to such growth and prepare the conditions for humans to thrive. Freewill is a mere myth that deters human flourishing.

This is a transcript from the video series Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science. Watch it now, on The Great Courses Plus.

Learn more about solving psychological mysteries.

John Watson was fired from John Hopkins University, where he held an academic position. He pivoted his career to advertising to use his expertise in enriching business owners instead of advancing humans. By manipulating the masses, he used his knowledge of the human mind to create gold, like the alchemists philosopher stone.

Psychology gave him the power to shape individual minds and culture as a whole. He found out fear, rage, love, habits, or needs were crucial for making humans take the action we want. Testimonials from ordinary people and celebrities were two powerful marketing strategies proposed by Watson.

The same ideas were adopted in the fashion industry by Sigmund Freuds nephew, Edward Bernays. He found out that he could use the results of his psychological studies in the world of fashion and advertising.

The term public relations was his idea to replace propaganda. He rightly thought that propaganda had negative connotations because it was associated with the military and the Nazis. So, he used a propagandistic term as a euphemism for the word propaganda.

In one of his books, Propaganda, he outlines the instructions to engineer public opinion, which formed the basis of modern public relations. Due to the collapse of monarchies replaced by democracies around the world, he believed that Power had been taken from the king and given to the people. So, the power of masses had to be harnessed by controlling the peoples behavior to achieve profit and authority. Now, rather than a tool for searching the nature of the human mind, psychology was used to manufacture false realities in the mind of people to make business owners wealthier and help certain politicians get elected.

Learn more about how human nature evolved.

In the realm of arts, the same notion was adopted, too. In the 1910s, Marcel Duchamp started a series of works called Readymades. He treated mass-produced goods as works of art by putting them in galleries. He made people rethink the way they looked at these everyday objects by putting them in not-so-familiar places.

The same approach was taken by Andy Warhol with his paintings of soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles. In the same vein, he took objects out of their standardized contexts and made his audience see them from another angle. He meant to show us that we were conditioned and manipulated by advertising, and, as Skinner had in mind, we could finally behave like autonomous beings with freedom and dignity.

John Watson is the founder of behavioral psychology. He was the first person to introduce the doctrine of cognitive significance to oppose the idea that psychology was the study of consciousness.

Fredric Skinner was an American psychologist. He found a mathematical relationship between environmental factors and human responses as well as the influence of positive and negative reinforcement on such responses.

Edward Bernays was Sigmund Freuds nephew. He coined the term public relations to replace propaganda. He believed in controlling human minds to gain profit and authority.

Readymades are mass-manufactured products displayed in galleries as art. The concept was first introduced by Marcel Duchamp to make people see everyday objects in a different way.

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Behavioral Psychology and its Practical Implications - The Great Courses Daily News

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October 16th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Liberalism will remain vulnerable unless it can speak to our need for emotional storytelling – New Statesman

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Close to the end of Hari Kunzrus new novel, Red Pill, the narrator is telling a Manhattan therapist about his deranged attempts to expose Anton, an alt-right screenwriter who he believes is stirring up dangerous political forces. The therapist scoffs that Antons television shows hardly make him a significant figure: Dragons, that sort of thing. Surely I could see that this was not a field for anyone with serious political ambitions. It would be hard to think of anything more purely escapist. But he demurs: There were underground currents, new modes of propagation. It wasnt even a question of ideas, not straightforwardly, but feelings, atmospheres, yearnings, threats Essentially I was talking about fascism. The therapist dismisses it as anxiety about the presidential election. It is polling day, 8 November 2016.

The narrator is a restless New York intellectual who accepts a fellowship at the Deuter Centre, an interdisciplinary institute at Wannsee, outside Berlin. Alienated by its clinical and rigid atmosphere he takeslong, bleak walks around the lake; encountering the grave of the romantic poet Heinrich von Kleist, the villa where theNazis devised the final solution, and a former East German punk haunted by her past as a Stasi informant. He also lurks in his room, binge-watching footage from war zones and Blue Lives, a trashy cop drama whose nihilism and unacknowledged quotes from an anti-rationalist opponent of the French Revolution beguile him. Meeting Anton, the shows Nordic supremacist writer, in Berlin, he develops an obsession, pursuing Anton to Paris and a Scottish island.

Back in New York, his wife is devastated by his melodramatic self-absorption, friends regard him with pity and detachment and the therapist dismisses his sense of dread about the future. The novel concludes as his wifes fashionable Brooklynite circle gathers to watch the election results coverage, champagne at the ready to toast a Hillary Clinton win and the natural next step on a timeline in which the future is predictable, an extrapolation from the past, a steady progression. Donald Trump triumphs, their world collapses and suddenly the momentum seems to be with Antons people, the alt-right trolls with their memes, in-jokes, sinister Nordic symbology and conspiracy theories; a rival timeline in which all this normality is a paper screen over something bloody and atavistic that is rising up out of history to meet us. It occurs to the narrator: My madness is about to become everyones madness.

A presence looms over Red Pill but is not named in it: Friedrich Nietzsche. He looms thematically, as the supreme theorist to emerge from the mists of German Romanticism. And he looms intellectually, his arguments echoing in the contrast that strikes Kunzrus narrator towards the novels end. The world experienced by the narrator at Wannsee and in Antons oeuvre is not the orderly, rational, linear system of the therapist or the Brooklyn sophisticates, what Nietzsche dubbed the Apollonian. It is revealed disorder, frenzy, urges and appetites, or what the philosopher dubbed the Dionysian. Nietzsche argued that Greek tragedys synthesis of the Apollonian and the Dionysian order forged in the very affirmation of the chaos of reality made it the highest and purest form of art. It is such a tragic synthesis that Anton finds in his fascistic nihilism, and that the narrator, too, finds in his own, doomed quest to stop Anton.

Four years on from the fictional Brooklyn party, the madness seemingly unleashed at the last US presidential election hasindeed become everyones madness to some extent. Established assumptions about the march of progress are not gone, but are less glib and more qualified. The Dionysian forces tribes and masses, mysticism and disorder have announced their presence behind the paper screen. It is now widely accepted that desiccated liberalism, the weightless technocracy of Stronger Together (Clinton 2016) or Stronger, Safer and Better Off (Remain) is vulnerable when up against rival offerings that speak to the human yearning for emotional story-telling, for operatic goodies and baddies, for the recognisable narrative of a Make America Great Again (Trump 2016) or a Take Back Control (Leave). Once more a US presidential election approaches and once more a liberal candidate looks likely to win. But this time few are willing to predict that outcome with confidence.

Even if Joe Biden does triumph on 3 November, this should not be mistaken for a restoration of some temporarily disrupted order. The Dionysian will still lurk below the surface, and with it myriad chances, for those willing to take them, to mould it into forms and stories. Trump will almost certainly decry the result as illegitimate, urging his supporters to agitate against it. Violence may ensue. Disinformation and myths will continue to ripple across social media. More previously apolitical types, isolated by lockdowns and spending too long online, will be drawn into conspiracy theories such as the QAnon claims that Trump is secretly battling an elite, Satan-worshiping paedophile ring; modern-day Quixotes driven mad by reading too many fanciful tales.

None of which is to say that these threats should be overblown in a way that flatters their propagators, or to deny that humans also have an immense capacity for reason and science and individuality. But it is to remind ourselves that there is something universal, eternal and, like it or not, innately human about the atavistic passions that seemed to come out of nowhere four years ago. They existed beforehand and will long outlive any Biden presidency. Feelings, atmospheres, yearnings, threats will stillshape and define experience. History will not be over, nor will it have been proved to be linear. Stories will still matter.

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Liberalism will remain vulnerable unless it can speak to our need for emotional storytelling - New Statesman

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October 16th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Lockdown read: The Unbearable Lightness of Being – The Mancunion

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With its recurring lockdowns and periods of isolation, 2020 has been a year of intense philosophical reflection. Many turned to works that would speak to the current situation, reflected in a surge of sales about fictional pandemics, such as Albert Camus The Plague. Milan Kunderas novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) offers the same philosophical musings but with significantly less deaths. The book will persuade you of the insignificance of your individual existence whilst also managing to feature a dog as one of the central characters.

Kundera spent his life and career in exile. But he has recently regained his native citizenship, and been awarded the prestigious Czech literary award the Franz Kafka prize. The news brings me back to Kunderas most influential work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being,to see how it can still speak to a reader today.

The novel tells the story of a group of romantically involved intellectuals and artists in Czechoslovakia during the period of Prague Spring in 1968. As accurately reflected in its grand title it is the philosophical musings (rather than the plot) that make up the force of the novel. The personal lives of the characters are aligned and juxtaposed to the wider political drama in Czechoslovakia. Kundera creates an immersive read on an almost predictable whirl of love, sex and infidelity between Tomas, Theresa, Sabina and Franz.

The political landscape and communist occupation of Prague intensifies the drama of the characters lives. The pressure on Tomas to submit to the communist ideology eventually leads him, followed by his two lovers, to Switzerland. Sabina then meets Franz, in a short-lived illusion of a happy resolution to their love triangle.

The narrator consistently places the lives of the individuals in perspective. Nietzsche is name-dropped in the first sentence of the novel, and the text is concerned with the burning philosophical questions that plague our existence. Ideas of eternal return, time and the question of lightness vs heaviness of existence are interrogated in the course of the novel. The narrative is a case study of different perspectives on life in a complex historical moment.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being often leans towards the nihilistic through the narrators insistence on the meaninglessness of a single existence. However, the story also focuses on the interconnectedness of four people in difficult times which becomes a lot more exciting with the entry of Karenin. Karenin is a female dog, and her presence is among the reasons why the novel has aged so well.

The portrayal of the dog is uncommonly generous. The navigation of the relationship between Karenin and the human characters invites broader discussions on the treatment of animals, and how that reflects on human nature. This and other themes that the novel tackles have not only remained, but increased in their relevance to this day.

Kunderas provocative insights have maintained their relevance thanks to the novels focus on the eternal its main advantage that could not be conveyed to film. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a worthy read in-between all the hours we are currently spending hooked to screens.

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October 16th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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The Wild and the Disaffected: A Conversation with Reinaldo Iturriza (Part I) – Venezuelanalysis.com

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A blogger-become-minister, Reinaldo Iturriza has written creatively and insightfully about Chavismo and its contradictions. His work includes El chavismo salvaje (Wild Chavismo) and La poltica de los comunes (Politics of the Commons). In this VA interview, Iturriza addresses what is possibly the most difficult question facing Chavismo today: the political disaffection that can be found in important sectors of the Venezuelan people.

You have developed a creative reading of the Chavista identity over the years. Could you tell us something about this?

First, there is what is laid out in the El chavismo salvaje book, which basically gathers writings that go from 2007 to 2012. Among other things, it is a first attempt at identifying the tensions within Chavismo, an effort to present the logic of the different lines of force that traverse the movement, how they are expressed in practices, etc.

Writing these texts involved some abstraction in the attempt to capture the real movement it was a dizzying exercise , but at no point did I intend to position myself as an observer of Chavismo from the outside. On the contrary, these are militant writings. At that time I considered it imperative to explain what we had learned, what we had been, and where we were as a movement. It required working in two registers: on the one hand, recording what the experience of the Bolivarian Revolution meant to us; on the other hand, we had to construct a story outside of the propaganda, not make concessions to self-indulgent approaches.

The very concept of wild Chavismo'' is far from being a mere metaphor or attempt to provoke. What I pinpointed then is that there was an attempt to brutalize [brutalizar] Chavismo (in fact this is one of the founding practices of anti-Chavismo), but there was another attempt aimed at "stupefying it" [embrutecer] this latter would become a characteristic of what I call officialism in my reflections.

Nonetheless, I highlighted that civil service, for example, was not by definition officialist, and that it is also possible to reproduce an officialist logic inside the grassroots movement. In synthesis, I tried to problematize the question of power, of its exercise, and also the question of the state and its institutions.

In the book [El chavismo salvaje], I raised issues of this kind and left open, as is inevitable, many questions. It was a starting point. From then on, I have tried to go deeper into some of these issues, while other themes have emerged.

In 2017, I wrote an essay (still unpublished): Chvez, lector de Nietzsche [Chvez, Reader of Nietzsche]. During the last years of his life, Chvez was a committed and unprejudiced reader of Nietzsche. And, as one would expect from a man like Chvez, his were not mere philosophical cavilings.

The Nietzsche readings, with others, inspired some major decisions. In fact, Chvezs Commune or Nothing, the famous slogan, was born, at least in part, from Chvezs peculiar and very heterodox reading of Nietzsche. Finally, in line with the analysis initiated in El chavismo salvaje and taking as a reference Gilles Deleuzes interpretation of Nietzsche, I suggested that there was an active Chavismo that would set itself apart from reactive Chavismo.

In 2018 I wrote another book (also unpublished), La poltica de los comunes [Politics of the Commons], in which I collected some already published texts on the communal question in Venezuela. Among other things, I attempted to demonstrate that Chavismo breaks with the political culture of Accin Democrtica [the social-democratic party that ruled for many years in Venezuela]. In other words, I argued that although there is a clear line of continuity between Accion Democraticas political culture and that of Chavismo, what distinguishes the latter is precisely its singularity.

What does the singularity of Chavismo consist in? When is it born? A real epistemological rupture as Chvez would call it occurred in the 1990s when a young Bolivarian military contingent discovered the ide-force of participative and protagonist democracy. We were in the presence of a full-fledged theoretical and political event: by gravitating around this idea, revolutionary politics in Venezuela would never be the same. It marks a before and an after. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that the Bolivarian Revolution becomes possible with this breakthrough. It changed everything and, in particular, the way of relating to the popular subject.

More recently, in 2019, I wrote a series of articles called Radiografa sentimental del chavismo [Sentimental X-ray of Chavismo], and I began to work on a line of research that I called Cuarentena [Quarantine]. The latter has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic, but with the fact that, in 2017, the most reactionary anti-Chavista lines of force became fervent promoters of the total economic blockade against Venezuela a quarantine to contain and eradicate the contagious disease that is Chavismo.

Radiografa is an update of the analysis that I began in El chavismo salvaje. For example, what I identify in Radiografa as disaffected Chavismo is the most contemporary expression of wild Chavismo which, as far back as 2010, has been fed up with dumb politics, with the aggravating factor that [in recent times] this phenomenon of disaffection has become massive.

In Cuarentena I tried to identify the conditions triggering the phenomenon of political disaffection by delving into an area which I had not paid enough attention to until then: the economy. More than a pending issue at the personal level, Im thinking that this understanding the economy is a pending collective task.

To give you an example, we have to understand the class composition of Venezuelan society today. But more than a snapshot of the current historical situation, I think we should understand the evolution of the class structure in Venezuelan society since the 1970s. Until we begin to gather such basic and crucial information, we will be condemned to repeat the same old generalizations about oil rentierism, post-rentierism, and other vague analyses.

A grassroots Chavista gathering in Caracas, 2018. (Voces Urgentes)

Have you come to any conclusions from your recent research and thinking?

Some of my working hypotheses right now are the following. First, there is a close relationship not mechanical but not casual either between the emergence of the first revolutionary cells within the Venezuelan Army in the 1980s, and the growing informality and unemployment of the time.

Second, there is documented evidence of the strategic insight of the Bolivarian military regarding what would have to be the backbone of the revolutionary subject in Venezuela: those who as early as 1993 Chvez identified as the marginal class, fundamentally made up by what some scholars call the sub-proletariat, which is the fraction of the proletariat most affected by the economic crisis: they are the poor who work, but those whose work does not guarantee the minimum conditions for the reproduction of life.

Third, the support of this sub-proletariat turned out to be decisive in Chvezs 1998 electoral victory, and that support became even more decisive in the resistance against each and every one of the attempts to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution, including Chvezs extraordinary victory in the 2004 recall referendum.

Fourth, the social, economic, and cultural policies advanced during Chvezs presidency had, as a fundamental purpose, improving the material and spiritual conditions of this class fraction.

Fifth, Chvezs effort to build a popular and democratic hegemony had this class fraction as its center of gravity: its aspirations and demands, but also its organization; this perspective is key to understanding the creation of the communal councils and, later, the communes.

Sixth and finally, the 2015 parliamentary defeat rang an alarm bell, warning us of a fracture in this popular hegemonic construction.

I think that, with sufficient information at hand, it is possible to demonstrate that this sub-proletariat is the economic (and no doubt political) correspondent with that which I have called wild Chavismo. Once we have undertaken a rigorous, detailed analysis of the evolution of Venezuelan societys class structure during the last decades something that, as I said before, is a pending task I believe we will be in a better position to confront the challenges that face us today. The question of wild Chavismo today for the most part, a disaffected bloc is also the question of the sub-proletariat. The answer to this question would give us fundamental clues about how to proceed in reconstructing a popular democratic hegemony.

An assembly at the Che Guevara Commune, Merida. (Sinco/Condiciones Capt. 4)

Can we contrast what you call wild Chavismo its desires and aspirations with the governments way of doing politics? I am aware that we need to take into account all the external factors that condition Venezuelan politics, but I want to focus on its day-to-day modus operandi in the country.

It is practically impossible to reflect on the daily practice of governing here without taking these external factors into account. If there is something that overdetermines our daily life, its precisely the US economic blockade that weighs on the whole of Venezuelan society.

The effects of the blockade are almost unspeakable. It produces suffering, stress, anxiety, fear, anger, distrust, and death. To that, we should add uncertainty and the narrowing horizon that the pandemic produces. We are talking about an experience that is difficult to explain to people who have never had to suffer through such a criminal blockade.

Additionally, wherever the imperialist story is effective, we can observe what Walter Benjamin would call empathy with the winner. This translates more or less as follows: if in Venezuela we are going through such a historical crisis, it must be because we deserve it. This idea expresses itself in different ways, including the convoluted discourse about the existence of a dictatorship, regime, and so on.

There is empathy for the winner for two reasons. First, there is the logic of the executioners accomplice in this case, the most lackey-like anti-Chavistas. Second, there are those who fear experiencing a similar blockade, which keeps people from raising their heads and encourages them to either look away or even turn against their own neighbors, to employ Benjamins terms.

Cooking with wood has become common in Venezuela. The blockade limits Venezuelas capacity to purchase gas from Colombia, but the poor upkeep of gas plants, distribution infrastructure, and the impact of corruption are all to be blamed for the current situation. (Archive)

This brings us to another difficult question: have the Venezuelan people been defeated?

Well, anyone could say I'm wrong, and they would likely come up with convincing arguments, but my answer is no. I do not think the Venezuelan people have been defeated. One of my reasons for saying this is my deep conviction that an important part of the population even as it struggles with the harmful effects of the blockade has preserved a margin of maneuver. In other words, our destiny is still in our hands.

What I observe is that, for a large sector of the population, the blockade is not seen as an inexorable fate: it is a crime that produces deprivation and death, but it is not inevitable. It is because they see it this way that so many people of all walks of life strongly reject the typical official story that the root of all our suffering is to be found in the blockade. In fact, the worst thing we can do now is to take an event as serious as the blockade and turn it into a pretext.

The problem with this way of thinking is that it exonerates those with government posts from assuming responsibilities and, worse still, it frees the society as a whole from responsibility. Its a discourse that turns us into victims that have to be protected or, in another reading, we only have the obligation to resist preferably without too much complaining. There is a false epic attitude in this story and also a lot of fatalism.

Should the Venezuelan government cease to fulfill its obligation to protect the population? Of course not. Has everyone in the government adopted this story [of the blockade exonerating them of responsibility]? I don't think so either, but the story is gaining ground.

To me, it seems evident that there is a crisis in the Bolivarian narrative. How can we overcome it? By keeping in mind two elements: on the one hand, the blockade, the effects of unilateral coercive measures, and the imperial siege; on the other hand, our margin of maneuver, the alternatives we have, what we can do. To do this, however, there must be confidence in the collective spirit which is to say, one must trust the popular subject which, at the end of the day, is what made the Bolivarian Revolution possible.

Does this mean that each and every one of the government's decisions must be debated publicly in an assembly? Clearly not. But it is also evident that the there is no alternative discourse cannot become a practice every time that people question decisions or express disagreements.

If the there is no alternative principle of politics were to become normal, we could just as well turn off the lights and close shop. We should understand the consequences of closing the door on the people that Chvez politicized. In fact, it is one of the reasons why there are so many disaffected people people who have come to not expect anything from Chavismo or from the opposition. This is the fact that should concern and occupy us, and not the fact that many are expressing their dissent... Dissent, at the end of the day, is actually a sign of political vitality!

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The Wild and the Disaffected: A Conversation with Reinaldo Iturriza (Part I) - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Say yes to the world: On Nietzsche and affirmation – Big Think

Posted: September 12, 2020 at 3:51 am


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There cannot be any comparable sentence in the history of Western thought.

Although it is exactly 148 years old, to this day some still interpret it in a manner contrary to its author's intentions. Nor can one conceal the fact that it brought him an extremely bad reputation. But meanwhile its meaning however ominous it may sound is actually very simple.

The sentence is: "God is dead."

It appeared for the first time in 1882, in The Gay Science by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most important philosophers of modern times. But the world is familiar with it mainly from another of Nietzsche's works, perhaps his most famous, written a year later, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. This very strange, poetic text, full of unusual metaphors and lyrical inspiration, predicts the coming of a new era. Its prophet is to be the eponymous Zarathustra, a figure whose name Nietzsche took from an ancient Persian priest, the creator of Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. But despite the mystical aura that Zarathustra radiates, his message has nothing to do with conventional religious ideas. Quite the contrary for he announces the death of God. And consequently challenges people to conduct a thorough revaluation of everything they think about the world and about themselves.

But what does 'the death of God' mean? Certainly not death in the literal sense it is not that after aeons of existence a divine being, an old man with a long grey beard who resides in heaven, suddenly ceases to be. Nothing of the kind. The 'death of God' is simply a metaphor for the historical moment whose advent Nietzsche sensed perfectly in advance. The moment when religion both as a prospect from which to perceive reality, and as a specific doctrine, in particular Christianity was bound to undergo irrevocable disintegration.

In Nietzsche's view, these were the ultimate consequences of processes that were set off within Western culture by the age of enlightenment. The new independence of human reason that came about at this time, the creation of the framework of modern science, the departure from the stage of self-incurred immaturity as Immanuel Kant expressed it led to the erosion of the great edifice of the religious view of the world. Humanity had finally produced tools that allowed it to distinguish mythology from knowledge, and by this token to unmask the claims of religious institutions and high priests. Finally it was possible to see that the power and social status they had enjoyed until now was entirely built on phantasmal foundations.

Yet in Nietzsche's day not everyone was aware of this, or rather not everyone was prepared to take it on board. That was why a new, charismatic prophet had to appear, who by referring to religious, prophetic symbols would formulate something like a new gospel. And would fully express man's situation in a world from which by now every last trace of the metaphysical had irrevocably been removed.

What is at the heart of this message? It is most fully expressed by a single word: affirmation. The person whose fortunes no imaginary providence is guarding any more, the person living in a world that was not created by any god and that no god is watching, the person now independent of all the religious institutions that disinherited him of his own power and spontaneity, the person who gets back all the wonderful features and possibilities ascribed until now to a deity only this sort of person has a genuine opportunity to say 'yes' to the world, with all its original meaninglessness, chaos, cruelty and unpredictability. Because only the sort of affirmation that takes account of all this, that does not disguise its meaninglessness with mawkish stories and its cruelty with metaphysical tales of final judgement, actually deserves to be called by that name.

German philosopher and writer Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (18441900).

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

But to reach this affirmation, first a person must fully and genuinely become aware of his own situation and draw radical consequences from it. In Nietzsche's view, Christianity was a religion based on resentment, and thus on the sense of dislike or even envy that the weak harbour towards the strong dislike or envy that is institutionalized, harnessed to an entire, complex mythological system, at the centre of which stands a figure of sanctified weakness, humility and modesty. According to Nietzsche, this is nothing other than a systematic means of depriving man of access to his own power, and at the same time it is the perfect way to exalt those who have voluntarily renounced this access. This form of exaltation also has a deeper sense, in that it gives the representatives of religious institutions a guarantee that the believers will be obedient to them, and by this token their position will remain unthreatened. And so the main purpose of this sort of ideology is to restrain those who could by nature pose a genuine threat to the domination of religious institutions.

Whereas Zarathustra brings a new message that allows mankind to break the chains for good and all, and to overthrow the last vestiges of the old order. Vestiges that were not so much material, as rooted in thinking and ethics based on Christian values. This is exactly what is meant by another famous Nietzschean maxim, about 'the revaluation of all values' the profound revision of a moral system that, under the guise of goodness and noble-mindedness, leads above all to slavery.

In any case, the theme of an endless play-off between strength and weakness was, according to Nietzsche, central to the history of humanity long before Christianity became its dominant religion. This is superbly demonstrated by Professor Tadeusz Barto in his latest book, Kltwa Parmenidesa [The Curse of Parmenides]. Nietzsche had already perceived this sort of conflict within Greek culture, which for him was the basic point of departure. It was expressed in various features, including the famous division into what was Dionysian and what was Apollonian: chaos, passion and ecstasy versus structure, rationality and abstract thought.

Nietzsche viewed his own contemporary era through this same prism as a world of people who were at a standstill, entirely cut off from any enlivening sources. Christianity was just one of many factors alongside a taste for danger, a cult of averageness, mediocrity and general indolence responsible for this state of affairs. In a brilliant flash of intuition, perhaps sensing in advance the radical shocks that the 20th century would bring, Nietzsche announced the need for the era of the 'superman' to arrive, someone who would elude all the classifications derived from the old value systems.

A few decades later, the concept of the 'superman' (in German, bermensch) although in actual fact it wasn't entirely clear who exactly he was meant to be would be given a nightmare interpretation by the Nazi movement, whose representatives were eager to refer to Nietzsche's philosophy. This occurred to a vast extent because of his sister, Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche who, as an ardent anti-Semite and nationalist, and also a member of the Nazi Party, thoroughly manipulated her brother's oeuvre and message. The Nazi reception of Nietzsche's texts is one of the most agonizing examples of a profoundly inadequate interpretation of a philosophical work. Nietzsche had nothing in common with the national-socialist ideology if he had lived in the days of Hitler, he would undoubtedly have spoken of him with the utmost contempt.

"In Nietzsche's eyes, the Nazi bermensch," writes Barto in his new book, "would have been a coward, a hidden assassin, the essence of the epitome of weakness regrettable resentment. Moreover, if we trace Hitler's frustrations as recorded in Mein Kampf, when he talks for instance about the Slavic threat in Austria and his other phobias, it is plain to see that this criminal was not the embodiment of strength, but of weakness, which he chose to address by conspiring, manipulating and murdering. This is a textbook example of resentment in action."

Full affirmation of life with its splendour and its cruelty, with everything that prompts horror as well as fascination, with passion as well as order would not actually be full if not for one particular property of the world around us, which in Nietzsche's opinion was also a simple consequence of moving away from thinking in terms of a deity, a final judgement or letting any other metaphysical idea dominate time and creation.

And this property is the eternal return of the same thing. The world is an eternal, but finite whole, declares Zarathustra, in which everything dies and everything is reborn. Thus inevitably, though after an unimaginable length of time, every component of the current situation, all the tiniest elements that have come together to form it, will be repeated in exactly the same way. So there will be no final salvation, liberation, or end of time. Everything will keep happening over and over again ad infinitum. We shall relive our lives a countless number of times, in exactly the same way, second by second, minute by minute, day by day.

We could of course see this as a reason for despair, but we could just as well surrender to it ecstatically. As we are doomed to it anyway, as everything is bound to be repeated anyway, why not endure it with joy and acceptance, asks Nietzsche.

And indeed why not?

Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

Reprinted with permission of Przekrj. Read the original article.

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Nietzsche and his wizards – The Rocky Mountain Goat

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Andru McCracken, Editor

By Andru McCracken, EDITOR

Ive pretty much given up on social media as a sort of vehicle that, by its very existence would somehow help humanity. As it turns out, its mostly just a massive timesuck eating away at what is real, and devouring whats most precious: time. Social media is an endless well of half-truths and flat out lies we like to tell ourselves, a dangerous way to organize ourselves into bubbles, classes, marketing segments. Our profiles there are a projection of the life we really wish we were living. In reality we are glued to our devices losing much of our connection to reality. If the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was made to suffer through this age, he would have probably ranked social media lower than religion and he didnt like religion very much.

But recently, with the help of a friend I stumbled across one teensy little light on the internet: the BC Whiskey Wizards. There I found grown men sharing their fear, anguish, rage and helplessness.

If there is one thing that is notably missing in the boundaryless age of social media it is actual sharing.

The BC Whiskey Wizards feed on Facebook puts a new twist on something as old as time.

Here, men post the things that have got them down, whats got them worried, what they are struggling with, what theyve done about it, and sometimes how their actions have failed.

Sometimes they are just venting, wanting to be heard. Sometimes they are asking for advice. Sometimes they are just grieving a loss or a partner or a friendship.

What unites all of these things in the weird little world of wizards is this: None of these things are supposed to be talked about.

Most of us guys are counselled hard from an early age never to talk about whats weighing on them, our fears, or our weaknesses.

But, maybe in the same way we can type such awful comments on the most mundane things without considering other peoples feelings, social media allows some guys to type out what is actually on their minds and hearts without a filter.

Its not that this is the first time someone has ever attempted to provide solace to guys or to get them to talk. There are lots of programs (in bigger places) to help guys work out their feelings and understand themselves, but what Tommy Gunn-Smith and his friend Ron Tuck have going on in spades is that theyre just two dudes that like whiskey.

Tommy demolishes stuff and ties rebar for a living. Hes not a white collar program manager with a fist full of degrees in psychology. Hes a blue collar dad and step dad trying to keep the peace at home, trying his best not to fight with his wife. And as hes setting up an anonymous whiskey gift service for people down on their luck and going crazy with COVID-19, he happens to notice other men in his position.

He and his friend accidentally built something really big. As big as a hot tub time machine. Every once in a while, the internet spits out another gamechanger. Wikipedia was one in my books (hey its not perfect, but its pretty damn good). This is another.

The fact that the program got started by guys who thought it would be cool to have a bottle of whiskey and a couple joints show up on their doorstep once in a while is a big reason the project has merit.

Getting answers Like anything, your mileage will vary. There is an awful lot of, emmm, un-professional advice.

The answers on how do I get to sleep range from read a book to get stoned and drunk before bed.

One dad of a four year old asked how if the F could he get his four year old to sleep and I was in the middle of typing an answer (I also have a four year old at home) and I suddenly realized, I dont have a bleeping clue.

Mansplaining here comes with the territory.

But even though all the answers arent genius, the fact that men of my generation are getting the opportunity to say what it is that is grinding on them? Thats new.

If Nietzsche were alive for this one, Im thinking hed be getting a lot of relationship advice and even better Ill bet some dudes would drop off a basket of whiskey and weed.

Whiskey and weed really wont solve anything, mostly they just complicate issues that are complicated enough, but having a chance to talk about the issues that are weighing you down with people that will listen, thats really good. And even in this connected age, its hard to find.

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Nietzsche and his wizards - The Rocky Mountain Goat

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An augmented reality art exhibition will debut on the University of Chicago campus – Time Out Chicago

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Artist Jenny Holzer uses a mobile app to "project" quotes from the university's core curriculum on campus buildings.

While some Chicago museums have reopened their doors, many Chicagoans have been enjoying the city's bestpublic artfrom a distance. Anew work commissioned by the University of Chicago will present even more outdoormasterpieces to take in. Today, theprivate university announced that a public-facing work by Jenny Holzer (a UChicago alumnus) will go on display in October, using augmented reality to create virtual projections on buildings throughout the school's Hyde Park campus.

"YOU BE MY ALLY" uses 29 excerpts from readings that have been included in the University of Chicago's core curriculumthe set of liberal arts courses that all students must complete during their time at the college. Holzer selected the quotes used in the project in collaboration with the university's faculty and students, including passages written by W. E. B. Du Bois, Helen Keller, Toni Morrison, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato and Virginia Woolf.

When the project launches on October 5, you'll be able to access a web-based augmented reality app with your phone and view animated "projections" of the selected passages on historically significant buildings throughout the University of Chicago campus, such as the Cobb Lecture Hall, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. If you're not in Hyde Park, you're not out of luckthe app will allow you to "project" the quotes on your immediate surroundings.

The texts selected by Holzer will also be displayed on trucks with LED displays driving through Hyde Park, Chicago's South Side and the Loop on October 5 and 6. Those same trucks will drive through Chicago on October 24 and 30 displaying "nonpartisan get-out-the-vote" messages, some of which were written by University of Chicago students.

Holzer's augmented reality artwork will be viewable (in Chicago and elsewhere) through November 22.

-These notable Chicago restaurants and bars have now permanently closed-Take a look around Time Out Market Chicago, now open in the West Loop-How Chicago museums are welcoming back guests under new safety guidelines-Beloved Logan Square hotspot East Room is now a wine bar with a colossal patio-A drive-through lights display is coming to Morton Arboretum this fall

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Ressentiment: He Hates, Therefore He Is | Chronicles – A Magazine of American Culture

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A few days ago, rioters in Bostondefaced the Robert Shaw Memorial, a masterpiece in high relief wrought by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whom I consider to be, alongside Frederic Remington, the most distinctly American of our sculptors. I am supposing that the attack on the memorial was no mere act of vandalism, no instance of rioting mainly for fun and profit, as Edward Banfield called it inThe Unheavenly City, but a real expression of political hatred. If I am wrong about that, I could turn elsewhere for instances: churches set afire, harmless businesses smashed, men of good will slandered, all in the name of justice.

For most of us, such acts of hatred and senseless destruction may seem incomprehensible. The key to understanding them is a motive that Friedrich Nietzsche first identified in hisOn the Genealogy of Morals(1887), and that Max Scheler, refining and correcting Nietzsches insight, made the subject of a brilliant book:Ressentiment(1913).

The French term is necessary because we are not talking about mere resentment. A neighbor who takes advantage of your good nature by letting his dog run loose in your yard is annoying, and the act may stir up passing resentment. Butressentiment,says Scheler, is a self-poisoning of the mind, a consequence of repressing otherwise natural but negative emotions, leading to certain kinds of value delusions and corresponding value judgments. The emotions primarily concerned are vengefulness, hatred, malice, envy, the impulse to detract, and spite. It goes beyond these evils and creates in the soul an inversion of values, so that the afflicted soul will say that the good it cannot enjoy is actually evil, and that the evil it indulges is good.

It is important to note that the emotions Scheler lists are but stages on the way toressentiment. Take the desire for revenge. If you give me a box on the ear and I give you one right back, we clear the air, andressentimenthas no food to feed upon. Soldiers, says Scheler, are least subject toressentiment. Think of Civil War generals Grant and Lee at Appomattox, or of William Shermans gracious and generous treatment of the Confederate soldiers in the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest, causing those two men to become fast friends.

An act of vengeance is not the same as vindictiveness, whereby you seek occasion to attack, for great touchiness is indeed a symptom of a vengeful character, as you tend to see injurious intentions in all kinds of perfectly innocent actions and remarks of others. Triggered! Thaddeus Stevens, the club-footed real estate mogul who never could have fought in the Civil War, was vindictive; Sherman was not, and he suffered politically because of it.

Or take envy, the only one of the seven deadly sins that brings not even a phantasm of delight. Here we are on dangerous ground. An emulous actor may cease to feel envy once success comes his way. He does not yet say that it is wrong to recognize excellence; he just wants his own to be recognized. To that end, though, he may indulge his appetite for detraction, to disparage and to smash pedestals, to dwell on the negative aspects of excellent men and things.

Likewise, the feminist is glad to believe the slanderous tale that her grandfather beat her grandmother. She is disappointed to learn the truth, that he was a modest and kindly man after all; but no matter, she who seeks for bad men to hate will find plenty. Or she need not find specific men at all, when she can settle upon a vague patriarchy. The less specific and personal is the object of hatred, the closer we come toressentiment.

These evils in a man sour and ferment intoressentimentwhen his felt inferiority is perceived as inevitable, as a destiny built into the nature of the world or of his society, against which he is impotent. He wants to strike back but he cannot. Or, the woman wants to tower over the man but she cannot. Both want history itself to be otherwise, but it cannot be. Then, says Scheler:

the oppressive sense of inferioritycannot lead to active behavior. Yet the painful tension demands relief. This is afforded by the specific value delusion ofressentiment. To relieve the tension, the common man seeks a feeling of superiority or equality, and he attains his purpose by an illusory devaluation of the other mans qualities or by a specific blindness to these qualities. But secondlyand here lies the main achievement ofressentimenthe falsifies the values themselves which could bestow excellence on any possible objects of comparison.

The fox in the fable who cannot reach the grapes calls them sour. That is detraction. The dog in the fable cannot eat the hay in the manger, so he makes sure the cow will not either. That is spite. But the fox has not gone so far as to prefer sour grapes. The dog has not gone so far as to prefer starvation. The man ofressentimentdoes go so far. Examples in our time are easy to find, including those that bear upon the current riots. Young black students who with the encouragement of their peers might succeed in school are sneered at for acting white. The courtly and earthy friendliness of blacks in the rural south is sneered at, too, as if it were no more than cringing; and thus do those ofressentimentreveal their own cowardice, like that of Uriah Heep.

Similarly, women are encouraged to look at the accomplishments of men before our time as if they were insults or encroachments upon their liberty, as if women and not men would have built the Brooklyn Bridge if they had been given the chance.

Ressentimentis, if I may indulge an oxymoron, gigantically petty. It is Jesse Jackson and the students of Stanford, chanting, Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go. I saw the same phenomenon at Providence College, where I taught for 27 years. The opponents of its Western Civilization program did not want to read the Tao Te Ching alongside the Psalms, or the Bhagavad-Gita alongside the book of Genesis. They refused to see that the best preparation for studying a civilization wholly alien to yours would be to study your own origins that had, over the chances and changes of millennia, become largely alien to you.

No, they were not interested in that: They had no stake in it. Nor could I appeal to the greatness and vast variety of what we had put before them, covering four or five disciplines, a dozen or more cultures, and 3,000 to 4,000 years. The very greatness itself was the offense.

Still European, said the bitter freshman from Colombia, when I told him we were going to read Pedro Caldern, the greatest playwright in his own native language. Where else but in school itself would he have learned his lesson inressentiment? Puny teachers do not revel in the greatness of John Milton or Alexander Pope or Charles Dickens. The greatness of such artists is an affront, ostensibly because they did not believe the values we happen to assert todaybut actually because they existed and were what they were. Had the blind visionary who composedParadise Lostbeen second-rate, he could be forgiven.

That is what galls. For the man ofressentimentstill senses the truth even though he cannot speak it openly. Milton is instructive here. Satan does not think that Adam and Eve are paltry. He knows they are noble. He does not think that the earth is a mere speck of mud. He knows it is beautiful:

The more I see

Pleasures about me, so much more I feel

Torment within me, as from the hateful siege

Of contraries: all good to me becomes

Bane, and in Heaven much worse

would be my state.

That is why he wants to destroy it. Think of an old embittered woman snickering to see a couple about to be married, predictingwishingtheir unhappiness. Think of gay men looking at the same couple and dismissing them as breeders. Think of the hatred once aimed at the Boy Scouts prior to their shameful retreat. People hated them not despite their helping boys to become normal and healthy men. They hated them because of it.

Hence we arrive at the attack on the Shaw Memorial. In 1863, Robert Shaw died a heros death at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner near Charleston harbor. He was a 25-year-old white man, a colonel, leading the Union armys first regiment of Negro soldiers. The Confederate general in charge of the fort, Johnson Hagood, in an act of remarkable gracelessness, ordered that Shaws body be interred in a mass grave with his niggers.

The memorial in Boston, then, was for a young man who gave his life for the sake of the noble black men he proudly led. He is depicted on horseback, with the black men before and behind him; and Saint-Gaudens sculpted them with great attention to age and to individual personality.

Why would the rioters want to deface that memorial? That is like asking why the man ofressentimentdoes not want to receive a gift from someone he hates. Feminists can condescend to forgive weak and ineffectual men. They cannot forgive strong and effectual men. It does not matter that Shaw was a fierce opponent of slavery. The point is that he was giving of himself, from his strength, and those who feel themselves to be inferior cannot abide it.

Students who protested at my old school were not grateful for being given a rare chance to study great authors and artists with teachers who knew their works and loved them. They did not want the education that W. E. B. DuBois himself would have recommended to them. They did not say, Thank you for bringing Homer before our eyes! May we also have theRig Veda? The greatness was the offense.

The noblest man, the man most free in his spirit, rejoices in the nobility of his enemy. It is not pride, but a free acknowledgment of a real value that exists apart from the persons involved. What matters is not whether I am Michelangelo, but that there should be a Michelangelo at all. For I derive my worth directly from the world of objective values, and not by comparison with others.

As long as we are interested in making manifest the highest of these values, says Scheler, the questionwhorealizes them will be of secondary importance, although each individual will be intent on doing it. A saint cannot begrudge another saint his sanctity without losing his own.

What we need, Scheler would say, is true Christian charity, which he distinguishes sharply from the self-serving bourgeois sentimentality that goes by that name, and that Nietzsche mistook for the real article. That is because Nietzsche did not take account of the very nature of God as Christ reveals him, the God who is himself love, who pours himself forth from the infinitude of his being, not inevitably and impersonally, as did the One of the Neoplatonists, but as a free gift.

Those who seek to be godlike, then, will wish to teach the ignorant, tend the sick, and correct the sinner not from empathy but from the invincible fullness of [their] own life and existence, aware that they are rich enough to share [their] being and possessions. Love, sacrifice, help, the descent to the small and the weak, here spring from a spontaneous overflow of force, accompanied by bliss and deep inner calm.

We see that bliss and calm in Jesus, who when He urges us to regard the lilies of the field does not say that we should be insensible to earthly things, or grimly stoical. His is a gay, light, bold, knightly indifference to external circumstances, drawn from the depth of life itself! Such inner security and vital plenitude can love the weak aright, and it grows by such love; it is the very kingdom of God among us on earth. The deeper and more central it is, adds Scheler, the more man can and may be almost playfully indifferent to his fate in the peripheral zones of his existence.

The great earthly aim of the Christian faith is not that there should be more of these or those material goods in the world, or an equal distribution of those goodsnot only wealth or objects of sensuous enjoyment, but fame, honor, rank, and political powerbut that there should be more love that rejoices in the excellence and the beauty of the other.

Out of the fullness of our being we make what Josef Pieper called the fundamental affirmation: How good it is that you exist! Yet we must flush out the impostors, the confidence men of love. One of them, says Scheler, is altruism. Altruistic love does not affirm any positive value. It is rather a disguised counter-impulse (hatred, envy, revenge, etc.) against those who do possess such positive values (courage, generosity, saintliness, etc.). Altruism poses as the universal love of mankind, which results in the urge to turn away from oneself and to lose oneself in other peoples business.

The riots today are not prompted by the discovery of saintliness and beauty in the life of George Floyd. Saintliness does not inspire mayhem. People who love beauty do not burn down churches. Floyd himself will soon be forgotten entirely, except as an empty name, a placeholder, an instrument for altruisticressentimentto lay hold of. Scheler saw the urge to altruism as a form of self-hatred: We all know a certain type of man frequently found among socialists, suffragettes, and all people with an ever-ready social consciencethe kind of person whose social activity is clearly prompted by his inability to keep his attention focused...on his own tasks and problems. He hates his feeling of inferiority, of failure, and so he attaches himself in repressed envy to those who are small and weak, not because he loves them, but because they are the opposite of what he hates:

When we hear that falsely pious, unctuous tone (it is the tone of a certain socially-minded type of priest), sermonizing that love for the small is our first duty, love for the humble in spirit, since God gives grace to them, then it is often only hatred posing as Christian love.

If I love you and you are wrong, I will tell you what you must hear, though I may tailor it to your ability to hear it. I will not necessarily feel what you feel, and it is wrong for you to require that I do. For feelings themselves may be evil, though they present themselves as angels of light. But if you say to me, You must on no account say anything that will trouble me, because I am a victim, you are like a sick creature snapping at the hand of the doctor, reveling in your sickness and calling it health.

The feminist does not rejoice to see a gang of boys happily and noisily playing football in a field. The critic does not rejoice to see a new artistic genius springing up among us, unless he can use him as a stalking-horse to condemn what he hates. The rioters do not seek friendship between men of different races. By comparison with the salt of a hatred that goes by the name of justice, friendship has no relish.

To anyone with a healthy mind, the rioting is incomprehensible, unless we understand that inversion of values that Scheler explains so well. Those who engage in the present destructive frenzy cry out that they have no choice because justice has been denied them too long. The proximate cause is the death of a black man, George Floyd, suffocated under the knee of a white policeman in Minneapolis. When will it matter to the nation, they cry, that black men are murdered by white men, by systemic racism and white privilege and four hundred years of oppression?

One might reply that murderdoes matter, and that is why we have laws against it, and jury trials, and prison. One might add a rejoinder to the effect that black men murder other black men in yearly numbers that we would not accept as American fatalities in one of our many Middle Eastern wars: more than 5,000 such homicides last year.

White murderers come nowhere near that mark, much less policemen of all races, who last year were responsible, in a nation of 330 million people, for the deaths of a mere 30 unarmed personsand unarmed does not mean not dangerous. An accomplice to an armed felon may be unarmed; so might a man strangling someone.

For the rioters, black lives do not matter, just as for feminists, the health and happiness of women do not matter. If the health of women were really the aim of feminists, they would be urging women to marry and to stay married, since a married and never-divorced woman living with her husband is the least likely person in America to be the victim of a felony crime.

I have heard feminists cry out about womens health all my life, as if men did not also get sick and did not die at younger ages than women do. But the same feminists have buried the pathological evidence linking breast cancer and abortion, which unnaturally disrupts a pregnancy just when the womans breast cells are in the midst of transformation. Many a male athlete accepts as a matter of course that the artificial testosterone he takes to grow muscle tissue can be carcinogenic; but feminists have not wanted women to hear that the artificial estrogentheytake to work the body up into a false pregnancy might also be carcinogenic. Nor shall we get into the matter of placing womenusually of the working classin front of an enemys cannons, grenades, rifles, and bayonets, for no conceivable military advantage.

But perhaps the cause of the present rancor will disappear, when equality, like sediment, settles upon all men in even layers from the east to the west? No, that will not be. It cannot be. The crust of conformity will crack. Mountains will rise. There will always be differences in talent, intelligence, industry, luck, thrift, and so forth. Indeed, as Scheler rightly notes, egalitarianism itself is a source of rancor, because it makes the results of such differences all the more painful for the weak to endure.

Egalitarianism is a rage to reduce. Its power is proportionate to the narrowness of its concentration, a single-minded refusal to recognize the value of the greatness it cannot attain. The ideological egalitarian must reduce man to a thing about which he can make quantitative predications; and then he fights against reality to make the predications come out even, and comfortably low. But man is not a thing. We will recall it someday. A strange time it is when the incendiary throng torch police stations and courthouses, while lonely prophets, like monoliths in a desert, call man back to a real life of communion and love.

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Dangerous Intimacies: Racism, Risk, and Recovery – Psychotherapy.net

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I Have These Fantasies I have these fantasies, Ivan told me, his voice low and cold as stone, his eyes sliding away from mine and fixing on the wall behind me. I wait for one of those women outside the building. I get her alone, and then I strangle her with my bare hands. As he said this, his hands tensed and grasped, as if wrapped around someones throat. "I can almost feel it," he said.

I have these fantasies, Ivan told me, his voice low and cold as stone

Resentment: A feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury (Merriam Webster)

Three years before this encounter, Ivana thirty-year seasoned social worker and substance abuse counselor who had received numerous commendationsfound himself in an unexpected situation. During a session, a client told him she had herpes and was planning to go out to spread it to as many men as she could. Alarmed, Ivan told her that was unacceptable, and that she absolutely could not do such a thing. The client became angry and stormed out. On her way past the front desk, she told the receptionist that Ivan had grabbed her and sexually assaulted her. Rather than come to Ivan and ask him what happened, or asking anyone else if they saw anything untoward during Ivans session (he always left the door part way open during sessions with female clients), the site manager broke protocol and went directly to the police. Ivan, unaware of the accusation, went about his day.

The following day, the police came for Ivan, hauled him down to the police station, and harshly interrogated him for four long hours. They pressured him. They threatened him with violence. They yelled in his face. They laughed as they told him they could plant drugs on him and throw him in jail anytime they wanted to, so he might as well just confess to what he had done. This kind of scenario would be a harrowing event for anyone, but for Ivana black man who grew up in the inner cityinterrogation by the St. Louis police was especially fraught. I really didnt know what they would do, he told me.

When you grow up in the city like I did, you stay away from the cops at all costs

Ivan was eventually released and, following a thorough investigation by both the police and the Department of Mental Health, was completely exonerated of any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the client in question had recanted, admitting that she made up the allegation because she was angry. But it was too lateIvans life was in tatters. Word had gotten out among both the professional social work community and the neighborhood that Ivan was a sexual deviant of some sort, though in typical gossip fashion, the details became contorted. He came home to see child molester spray painted on his garage. He had rocks thrown through his windows. Neighbors crossed the street to avoid him, and he was asked to leave neighborhood gatherings. His girlfriend of two years left him because of the rumors.

"They know exactly what calling the cops on a Black man can mean," he stressed

Ivan, understandably, harbored a great deal of resentment about everything that had happened to him. Notably, however, he was not upset with the client who accused him: The client is, well, a client. You dont expect them to act rationally, he said. Nor was he upset with the police who interrogated him: The police were doing their jobs. I was just some guy they thought had done this thing. Rather, his resentment became directed at the coworkersall of them womenwho called in the police rather than following company protocol. Thats what I dont understand, he said. My coworkers, those womenthey knew me. I had worked there for six years. Thats what really gets me. In other words, Ivans resentment derived from the intimacy and vulnerability he had cultivated with the peoplewomenwho then turned on him and put him in danger. The fact that some of these women were Black women particularly upset him. "They know exactly what calling the cops on a Black man can mean," he stressed. "They put me directly in harms way. I cant believe they did that."

Re-Sentiment: To feel something again, to experience the past in the present.

When we first began meeting, about six months after the incident in question, Ivan insisted we keep the door opennot just a crack, but wide open. He was afraid to be alone with me behind closed doors. As he explained it, What if you felt uncomfortable or just decided to interpret something some way and accused me of something? The police told me I could get twenty years for sexual assault. Twenty years! Im 62thats a lifetime. If there was another accusation, they would put me away for the rest of my life. Given Ivans fear of women and his refusal or inability to become angry in session, it quickly became clear to me that the standard therapeutic interventions for PTSD were not going to be helpful. Not because Ivan didnt have PTSD or that they wouldnt have helped to relieve the internal push of some of his most troubling feelings, but because these interventions assume that a person is situated in a particular way in the social and relational world or, rather, NOT situated in a particular way. As a Black man, some of the many harmful stereotypes Ivan had to contend with were that of being construed as scary or threatening, prone to violence or loss of control, hyper-sexed. Not only is it likely that such stereotypes prompted his coworkers to call the police, it affected Ivans relationship with his own emotionality, especially his anger.

One day, as he sat in my office trembling and sweating and talking about how his life had become a shambles, I tried to get him to express his anger about what had happened to him. After a few minutes of this, he looked up at me, incredulous. Im sitting here in this room with a White woman and youre telling me to get ANGRY? Youve got to be kidding me. I cant do that. I assured him that it was ok, that this was part of his process of healing, and he just scoffed. Doc, I know you mean well but seriously, you dont understand. I just cant do that. Im a Black man. Youre a White woman. I cant get angry around you. Ive learned my whole life that thats a dangerous thing to do. I just cant do it. Despite my assurances that it really was ok to do so, Ivan was adamant. It was, he said, for my own protection.

Not that he would ever actually hurt me, but, rather, that I might become afraid of him

Ressentiment: The persistent indignation of the historically oppressed (Nietzsche)

In Ivans case, it was obvious to me that race likely played a role in his coworkers assuming he was sexually dangerous and calling the police

One day, as Ivan sat on my couch jiggling his leg and wringing his hands, I said, I wonder how your being a Black man might have figured into what happened to you. Do you have any thoughts about that? He immediately stopped jiggling his leg and looked up at me, intently. I worried that perhaps I had offended him. Doc, he said. It has everything to do with it. But I didnt know if it was ok to talk about that in here. I assured him that it was, and this opened up a whole new line of exploration in our work together. It was only in the wake of this that he was able to tell me why he was afraid to get angry in session, and for us to work toward making that a safe thing for him to do.

Ivan doesnt blame racism for everything, though. I keep thinking I must have done something to bring this down on me, he said. I must have. Otherwise, why me? Though at the same time he is adamant: If I had to do it all over again, I wouldnt do anything differently. Not one single thing. You cannot go out and spread herpes to a bunch of people. No! You cannot do that! So, I would tell the client the same thing. I wouldnt do anything different. That gives me comfort.

As I write this now, Ivan is doing well. We are down to one session every three weeks. He still gets triggered and has moments of intense rage or panic, but now he can go to the grocery store and complete a shopping trip without having to leave if a woman walks too close to him, and he can ride the bus without having to sit way in the back to make sure no women are behind him. Hes even considering dating again. I never would have believed it, he told me. When we first met, I thought Oh Lordy, how is this White girl going to help me? I thought, God has a pretty sick sense of humor. But you know what, Doc? Ive learned a lot; youve taught me a lot.

Affect and emotion are highly racialized in the United States, and for some people, the honest expression of those feelings can be literallyeven fatallydangerous

So what to do? Does this mean that clients of color should only see therapists of color, and white therapists should only see white clients? No. But it does mean those of us who are White clinicians are ethically obliged to educate ourselves about racial dynamics and injustices and be prepared to discuss them from a place of respect and openness with clients of color. We need to be willing to take an honest and hard look at our own privilege and how it shapes our beliefs about health and healing. And we must recognize that the theories and interventions we have learned as best practices are based on White norms and do not take into account the legacies of bias and oppression that shape Black clients emotional experiences and expression. This does not make these tools useless or ineffective. But it does make them partial and in need of active interrogation and adjustment (for a collection of excellent resources on where to begin, see Race and Racism: Resources for your Practice).

I am incredibly fortunate that Ivan took a chance on me. He was traumatized and vulnerable and he took an enormous risk working with a woman, and a White woman at that. He says I taught him a lot, but what he has taught me is infinitely more valuable: he taught me to recognize how much I dont yet know.

References

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Resentment. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved July 7, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resentment.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. (1989). On The Genealogy of Morals. (W. Kauffman & R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.). Vintage Books. (Original work published 1887)

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September 12th, 2020 at 3:51 am

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In Gratitude for the Executive Order on Critical Race Theory – Merion West

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The Melting Pot is a quaint notion now perhaps (and no longer widely taught to curious young boys and girls), but I find it useful as a basic counterimage to the sophisticated, academic concept of Critical Race Theory now being taught.

Sometime during my elementary school education in rural Pennsylvania, I was introduced to the then-common concept of the United States as the Melting Pot. In my innocent farm boy imagination, I saw people from all over the world jumping into the type of big, black belly pot hung over a wood fire that was used by cannibals in cartoons and occasionally by Bugs Bunny to cook Elmer Fudd. I saw all of the many different types of people in the worldfarmers, elementary school teachers, and county sheriffsbeing melted together like my toy soldiers and emerging as shiny, new Americans.

The idea made me proud. It made me happy. It made me feel that I lived in a happy place, where everybody in the world wanted to all jump into the pot and become an American. It assured me beyond my understanding that I lived in an important and proud society where everyone voluntarily surrendered their differences in the common pursuit of happiness.

The Melting Pot is a quaint notion now perhaps (and no longer widely taught to curious young boys and girls), but I find it useful as a basic counterimage to the sophisticated, academic concept of Critical Race Theory (CRT) now being taught. Where the Melting Pot proposes a unified and cooperative America, CRT proposes a divided and competitive one.

It is said that bad news can run around the world while good news is still putting its pants on. This certainly seems true for CRT, the child of postmodernism. And this is where the trouble starts. CRTs parent philosophy of postmodernism ran around the world from Paris in the 1960s while the good news of capitalisms superiority over communism was still looking for its pants. While the world had begun joining together for nuclear non-proliferation, postmodernism arrived to divide the world back into warring tribes.

Postmodernism is a philosophy based on nihilismthe belief that human life is meaningless, truth is unknowable, and morality is relative. Postmodernist pioneer Jacques Derrida said that what was real could never be known because we all have different ideas about reality. Perhaps because Friedrich Nietzsche had pronounced God dead, Foucault panicked and claimed then that all bets were off and everyone would have to become their own bermensch (Nietzsches term): a higher overman that provided his or her own values. It was nonsense, of course, but Derrida dined out on this idea for decades. Here he is responding to an interviewers question about his theory of postmodernism that was leading to the deconstruction of traditional Western values. This new word deconstruction meant the same thing as the old, shorter worddestructionbut indicated that the postmodernists need to destroy the common language as well as truth, morality, and values:

Before responding to this question, I want to make a preliminary remark on the completely artificial nature of this situationI want to underline rather than efface our surrounding technical conditions, and not feign a naturality that doesnt exist.

Naturality? This gibberish goes onseemingly for several weeksand gets much worse. I will spare you. Feminist scholar Camille Paglia described this as thrashing the language and concluded that the postmodernists she had known were frauds. Yet, this was the bad news that quickly ran around the world. There was no more realityonly my reality, no more truth only my truth. There were no more Melting Pot Americans unified in the pursuit of happiness, only nihilistic tribes of strangers competing for the American Dream.

Into this jolly mix arrived the squalling newborn of CRT. In the early 1980s, the high holy days of postmodernism at Harvard University when whiteness was identified as the original and irredeemable sin, CRT was immaculately conceived in a conference of law professors and students as a perfect mimic of Orwells newspeak and groupthink and born of a woman: Kimberl Williams Crenshaw, Harvard Law School class of 1984.

Shazam! Crenshaw created categories of oppressed people (by race and sex) and theorized that a white, male supremacist patriarchy existed to maintain this oppression. The academy looked on in awe at this young, black woman who had uncovered the Rosetta Stone of the oppression they all knew existed. Then, Crenshaw imagined an even finer interpretation and coined the impressively thrashed term of intersectionality. This was essentially a cumulative point system of oppression with unlimited categories including gender, class, religion, disability, physical appearance, and its sub-category: height. Yes, people are oppressed if they are too short or tall. Aside from instantly destroyingor, rather, deconstructingalmost all forms of comedy and ridicule that were thrashed into micro-aggressions, it was a stroke of postmodern genius. Everyone was oppressed, even though nothing was real and nothing was true.

Of course, intersectionality as the cornerstone of CRT took off running and quickly outpaced postmodernism in the race of bad news around the world. By the early 2000s, law schools began featuring CRT courses. Today, CRT and intersectionality are essential parts of hundreds of university courses in education, political science, womens studies, ethnic studies, communication, sociology, and American studies.

CRT enthusiasts have expanded their truth(s)(?) to include the thoroughly thrashed conceptual triad of diversity, inclusion, and equityreferred to in the hushed tones of micro-aggressors appropriately as D.I.E. This toxic soup cooked up by academic court jesters has now even invaded the sciences and the federal government of the United States.

Reporter Christopher Rufo of the Discovery Institute and City Journal recently spoke about his investigation into CRT and the federal government. Appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonightat the beginning of the month, Rufo explained:

I broke the story on the Treasury Department which held a seminar earlier this year from a man named Howard Ross, a diversity trainer who has billed the federal government more than $5 million over the past 15 years conducting seminars on Critical Race Theory.

He told Treasury employees essentially that America was a fundamentally a white supremacist country and I quote, Virtually all white people uphold the system of racism and white superiority and [Ross] was essentially denouncing the country and asking white employees at the Treasury Department and affiliated organizations to accept their white privilege, accept their white racial superiority, and accept essentially all of the baggage that comes with this reducible essence of whiteness.

Second, this is not by any means limited to the Treasury Department. Critical Race Theory has actually now infiltrated our criminal justice system. Just this week, I released a story that the FBI is now holding weekly seminars on intersectionality, which is a hard left academic theory that reduces people to a network of racial, gender, and sexual orientation identities that intersect in complex ways and determine whether you are an oppressor or oppressed.

Oppressor or oppressed, that old chestnut of Karl Marxoppressed workers against oppressive capitalists. Crenshaws Rosetta Stone of oppression was really just a postmodern thrashing of Marxs old Communist Manifesto. Of course, everyone present at the time knew this was true, but the truth being what it wasor maybe was notthey were happy to overlook Crenshaws cribbing without public credit being paid to the originator: old Karl Marx.

But it seems to me to go back even further, even before God was found dead. Isnt it all just a retelling of the jealousy of Cain for his brother Abel? Wasnt Cains killing of his favored and therefore oppressive brother simply the attempted overthrow of Gods patriarchy? Havent we all seen this movie before, back when there was truth and before reality was cancelled? Does this mean that Harvard and dozens of other institutions of higher education offering CRT are neither higher nor education?

Recently a presidential executive order was issued through the Office of Management and Budget in response to Rufos public challenge to end the flow of taxpayer dollars to CRT trainers teaching inclusion and diversity to scientists, soldiers, and executives working in the federal government. In summary, the order concludes:

The President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States. The President has a proven track record of standing for those whose voice has long been ignored and who have failed to benefit from all our country has to offer, and he intends to continue to support all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed. The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government..

Jim Proser is the author of Savage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson Is Saving Western Civilization and No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy: The Life of General James Mattis.

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In Gratitude for the Executive Order on Critical Race Theory - Merion West

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