“Protest Action against Kony2012 propaganda. A museum in Stockholm is organizing an exhibition of pictures of the warlord Konys crimes right after Invisible Children, a pro-imperialist lobby group, launched its campaign Kony2012. We condemn Konys war crimes, but the world needs peace, not war. If we are talking about war criminals let’s talk about Obama: He has many more lives on his conscience than Kony. Invisible Children’s campaign is to get the United States and the West to invade Uganda in the hunt for Kony. If they were honest in their attempts to stop the war crimes they had been lobbying to send Obama to the Hague instead!”
- Nordisk Ungdom
The contemporary narcissist bears a superficial resemblance, in his self-absorption and delusions of grandeur, to the “imperial self” so often celebrated in nineteenth-century American literature. The American Adam, like his descendants today, sought to free himself from the past and to establish what Emerson called “an original relation to the universe.” Nineteenth-century writers and orators restarted again and again, in a great variety of forms, Jefferson’s doctrine that the earth belongs to the living. The break with Europe, the abolition of primogeniture, and the looseness of family ties gave substance to their belief (even if it was finally an illusion) that Americans, alone among the people of the world, could escape the entangling influence of the past. They imagined, according to Tocqueville, that”their whole destiny is in their own hands.” Social conditions in the United States, Tocqueville wrote, severed the tie that formerly united one generation to another. “The woof of time in every instant broken and the track of generations effaced. Those who went before are soon forgotten; of those who will come after, no one has any idea: the interest of man is confined to those in close propinquity to himself.” Some critics have described the narcissism of the 1970′s in similar language. The new therapies spawned by the human potential movement, according to Peter Marin, teach that “the individual will is all powerful and totally determines one’s fate”; thus they intensify the “isolation of the self.” This line of argument belongs to a well -established American tradition of social thought. Marin’s plea for recognition of “the immense middle ground of human community” recalls Van Wyck Brooks, who criticized the New England transcendentalists for ignoring “the genial middle ground ground of human tradition.” Brooks himself, when he formulated his own indictment of American culture, drew on such earlier critics as Santayana, Henry James, Orestes Brownson, and Tocqueville. The critical tradition they established still has much to tell us about the evils of untrammeled individualism, but it needs to be restated to take account of the differences between nineteenth-century Adamism and the narcissism of our own time. The critique of “privatism,” though it helps to keep alive the need for community of genuine privacy recedes.
The contemporary American may have failed, like his predecessors, to establish any sort of common life, but the integrating tendencies of modern industrial society have at the same time undermined his “isolation” Having surrendered most of his technical skills to the corporation, he can no longer provide for his material needs. As the family loses not only its productive functions but many of its reproductive functions as well, men and women no longer manage even to raise their children without the help of certified experts. The atrophy of older traditions of self help has eroded every day competence, in one area after another, and has made the individual dependent on the state, the corporation, and other bureaucracies.
- Excerpt from: The Culture Of Narcissism, by Christopher Lasch