I have been following discussions for about a year now in the various news-discussion groups like Vive Le Canada
, The Tyee
. While the vast majority of the people involved in these discussions do so in a manner respectful of each other, there is one group that does not. The neocon apologists spew hate and venom across the screen. Anti-war sentiment is viciously slandered as pro-Saddam or pro-terrorist, Canadians are attacked as cowards, weaklings, back-stabbers and virtual communists, war resistors are traitors who ought to be shot, any criticism of Israeli policies is deemed anti-Semitic, and so forth.
Liberals, radicals and genuine conservatives counter this hate stream with logic and evidence - sometimes pages of evidence. All of this effort is for naught as the neocon True Believers simply ignore it.
None of these people ever admit to learning anything from these discussions. They come to these groups with one purpose in mind, to insult and disrupt. Such people are generally known as "trolls", a bit of an insult to those ogres who live under bridges. Some trolls may be more than just angry fanatics. Given such outrages as COINTELPRO, I wouldn't put it past the state to hire a few people to disrupt left-wing or anti-war discussion groups. But most of them are probably free-lance haters.
What kind of person would want to do this? I cannot imagine any leftist or pacifist spending their time doing the same to neocon sites. You have to be overflowing with hate to spend your time hanging around where you aren't wanted, insulting and vilifying people.
This level of hate must be so strong that it counters any evidence or logic, a hate so overwhelming that the victims of corporate state cruelty are dismissed out of hand or even thought to deserve their suffering. A hate so strong that it suffocates the natural feelings of empathy and compassion.
Of course, we all hate. It arises naturally when we are threatened. In this ultimate sense, we are no better than neocons, but there is hate and there is hate. It is natural, indeed healthy, to hate the oppressor. It is natural to hate war-mongering politicians, greedy capitalists and sadistic bureaucrats, for we are the victims of these creatures. The sort of people who boss and exploit us would be ostracized or even killed in a tribal society. (1) It is not natural, on the other hand, to hate the victims and glorify the aggressors, but this is precisely what the neocon supporters do.
How are neocon supporters threatened by the oppressed? The oppressed represent the reality which the True Believers don't want to accept. The reality they are slaves like the rest of us.
Part of the problem can be put down to ignorance. Neocon hate mongers are poorly educated, even if a few of them have graduated from college. This is evident not only by their inability to construct a logical argument, but their lack of knowledge of the basic facts of social science and history. They are so ignorant of political science that they cannot tell the difference between a moderate social democrat and a Stalinist and are completely unaware of the US state's long history of intervention in Latin America. All their "knowledge" seems to come from those worthy descendants of Julius Streicher and Joseph Goebbels, like Bill O'Reily and Ann Coulter.
A more encompassing explanation would have to include mis-placed hostility filtered thru a narcissistic mentality. Everyone suffers. It might be parental repression, bullying at school, or the endless humiliations of the work place. Everyone has a reservoir of repressed anger. Some people drink to deal with that anger, others kick the dog, some direct it to the true cause of their suffering - an unjust and authoritarian social structure. Then there are the people, like the neocon True Believers, who direct their hostility toward their fellow victims. This is a familiar type - unionized workers, Quebec nationalists, welfare recipients and feminists are the root of all our problems. The rich and powerful are innocent and have our best interests at heart.
Of course the media whores spend day and night convincing people that the problems are "greedy workers" and not greedy bosses.
I suspect that neocons had authoritarian parenting, most likely a mix of repression and material indulgence. There must be a vast amount of repressed rage combined with megalomania inside these people. Bush is the archetypal neocon, a materially spoiled child raised in a culturally and intellectually shallow, emotionally repressed, family, the perfect narcissist.
Narcissists think of themselves as unique and the center of the world. For the "rank and file" neocons to see themselves as part of the great mass of the exploited would run counter to their megalomania. They would like to be part of the world of the rich and powerful, but can't. But one way they can share this world is to identify with them and adopt their worldview. These slaves not only worship their masters, but they repeat all their justifications.
Narcissism is a strong tendency in post-modern society. When traditional morality breaks down two things occur. A new ethics arises to replace the old worn out system and part of society tumbles into amorality, or more correctly, into nihilism and narcissism. (2) The latter seems to be most prevalent in the United States. At the same time, in Western Europe and Canada a new post-modern ethic has developed, exemplified by opposition to war, concern for the poor and the environment. This helps explain the rather wide acceptance of neocon ideology in the USA and its relative weakness elsewhere. It is worth noting that many people rooted in traditional morality, as well as post-modern ethicals, condemn nihilism and narcissism. Thus one shouldn't be surprised if the new social movements and the Pope are sometimes on the same side.
1. A collective consciousness reaching back 100,000 years or more. The social aspect, which gives rise to, and reinforces our humanity, is based upon the unspoken, tacit assumption that each person is worthy of respect. Exploiters and bullies do not respect other people and thus threaten the mutual aid and reciprocity necessary for survival. As such they must be driven out of the group or killed.
2. To the extent that the old morality is itself rooted in nihilism, nihilism will result when it breaks down. To the extent that the old morality is based on a genuine ethic (one rooted in life), this aspect will become the core around which the new ethics grow. Christianity as an example - to the extent that Christianity is world-hating, it will give rise to nihilism in its decline, to the extent that it is ethical - promoting peace, opposing greed, supporting the oppressed - it will give rise to a new ethics in its decline. Thus, the prevalence of nihilism in the USA is a reflection of the strength of Bible-literalist hate cults, which are stronger there than any other country.