The Primary Value of WikiLeaks

Julian Assange is the “bad” boy in the family who jumps up and down waving his parents’ dirty laundry. He’s shaking up the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. Everyone’s in a tizzy.

By exposing the secrets of the ruling class, Assange and WikiLeaks can help us to grow up psychologically.

The relationship we have with the ruling class is patterned on the relationship we had with our parents. We maintain in our psyche the emotional memories of how we experienced our parents. Passivity is a primary feature of that relationship. As young children, we were dependent on our parents, and we understood that they had the power and were, in a sense, our rulers. As children, we’re biologically unable to rule ourselves. We need the rule of parents. In an ideal world, parents would always practice benevolent authority.

The rule of parents over their children is biologically necessary, just as the rule of political leaders is socially necessary. We’re not evolved enough yet to live in a complex society without a hierarchy of authority. This authority is entitled to withhold some information from the public in order to maintain an advantage over its enemies. On these grounds, the release of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks (not by WikiLeaks) probably calls for legal review.


Tyranny Prevention Starts With You

A lot of us fear that the big changes happening in America are for the worst. Many on the Left are convinced soft-core fascism has crept into our institutions and been smuggled into our laws, and they fear the possibility that conditions will deteriorate. On the Right, many fear that the federal government, more than ever, is infringing on their liberties.

There’s plenty of evidence that democracy has been weakened since the 1980s, including the growing role of corporate money in politics, the ascendency of the military-security state, the suppression of human rights under the Patriot Act, the high rate of prisoner incarceration, and the relentless pursuit of empire.

A tyrannical leadership could indeed seize power in America. But it’s self-defeating for people to live in fear of that possibility. If we spend time in fear, we’re in danger of facilitating that vile prospect. Fear arises, whether on the Left or the Right, largely out of a sense of powerlessness, passivity, and an unconscious temptation to indulge in the the feeling that the worst is going to happen.

It obviously doesn’t pay, as an example, to go around worrying about getting cancer. Worry and anxiety in itself can help bring on the disease. Instead, we try our best to live a healthy lifestyle, and keep cancer at bay through our own vitality, sense of purpose, and ability to enjoy life, even with all its trials and imperfections.

What does healthy living involve in the context of our citizenship and our desire to defeat stealth tyranny? Prevention, not fear, is the antidote.


Roots of Inflammatory Political Discourse

In the wake of the Tucson massacre, President Obama has called for a new era of political civility. If we really want this reform, we need to understand something about the roots of inflammatory discourse.

Many partisans are not interested in any resolution of political issues. The real purpose for the venom they direct at each other is to cover up their own unresolved negativity and to discharge that negativity on to their opponents and us.

If civility returns to political discourse, these partisans will be left to bake in their own neurotic juices. They prefer a scorched-earth political climate to a true accounting of their distemper.

That distemper has been particularly gruesome from the right wing where the most aggressive projections of negativity and the most irrational discourse originate. As a people, we are unable to outgrow regressive, reactionary, and violence-inviting political discourse when we don’t understood the psychological dynamics clearly enough. For all the advances in neuroscience and brain studies, we haven’t acknowledged an essential aspect of human nature. Psychoanalysis did identify this dark aspect of our psyche, but our education system failed to transmit this vital knowledge to the public.


John Boehner’s Unexplored Psyche

What makes John Boehner cry? The new Speaker of the House’s crying jags are psychoanalytically intriguing.

Boehner cries a lot in public, even when debating bills in the House. He cries when he talks about his humble past. Son of a bar owner, he grew up with 11 siblings in a two-bedroom house with a single bathroom. He said recently on “60 Minutes” that he no longer visits schools or even looks at kids playing outside because he immediately starts crying.

My intention is not to belittle Boehner but to analyze him through his childhood experiences and current behavior. We have to understand the psyche of our politicians if we’re going to reform our dysfunctional government. He has much in common psychologically with many members of Congress from both parties. They possess a level of self-awareness that’s completely inadequate to the demands of their jobs.

Boehner had a scrappy upbringing, running cases of beer and mopping the floor in his father’s bar. He put himself through school, “working every rotten job there was.” The circumstances of his childhood, along with his manner of describing it, strongly suggest that, at times, he felt unappreciated, disrespected, and lacking in value.


The Left's Unconscious Self-Defeat

The collapse of the liberal resurgence of 2008, when Barack Obama swept to power, is evidence that some form of self-defeat is at play in the left-wing psyche. Obama is not solely responsible for this collapse. He’s manifesting a weakness that’s common to most liberals.

I believe that liberals and progressives—count me among them—are weakened significantly by a false article of faith. This false belief holds that national disharmony is caused by the malice, ignorance, and oppression of others, particularly the right wing and the oligarchy.

On a personal level, we also blame our dysfunction and unhappiness on others, namely parents, employers, misguided friends, insensitive loved ones, and soul-crushing society.

Fifty years ago many people had a different take on reality. According to classical psychoanalysis, dysfunctional government is directly related to inner conflict in the individual psyche. Together we create a society that mirrors our inner development. According to this view, the behaviors of bankers, federal regulators, or the media would not be considered the ultimate cause of the current financial crisis. Rather, the crisis arose from the lack of awareness and self-development on the part of us all. Accordingly, collective revolutionary actions won’t necessarily transform this country for the better when many of its citizens remain psychologically naïve.

Passivity is as American as Apple Pie

In a perverse sort of way, passivity is very powerful. It’s the 800-pound gorilla that’s blocking our destiny. It accounts for our failure to respond appropriately to the corporatism, militarism, narcissism, and absurdism of American life.

What exactly is this passivity? Many writers and thinkers on the Left claim it’s a condition or mentality that’s being forced upon us. They believe we’re victims who are being disempowered, manipulated, and controlled by a corporate state.

Many individuals feel dominated, oppressed, and even devoured by villains in the corporate world. Some believe we'll become more powerful if power can be shifted to us, away from the corporations and the oligarchy.

However, this trickle-down empowerment doesn’t appeal to me. Those corporations possess self-aggrandizing worldly power that’s sustained by marketplace mythology, the sanctity of profits, and an illusion of earth’s invincibility. If we acquired that kind of power, we’d probably be corrupted by it.

It’s also futile to blame corporations and the oligarchy because we feel powerless. In their compulsion to grow wealthier, they take advantage of any weakness. Their ruthlessness identifies our worst weakness, which is our inherent passivity, an aspect of human nature.