he Tragedy of Victim Correction as a Panacea~

 

 

As the above says, this is Al-Anon approved literature, for Alateen.  You couldn’t make this stuff up!  Persuading people to think like this works best with Groupthink, but if you, on your own, must deal with a devastating reality in order to fit in and function, then you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and our self-responsible cultural norms (“Everybody knows that The Serenity Prayer is good.”) would provide the Groupthink.  As Addiction: Why Can’t They Just Stop?, by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke, says, in a survey of addicts’ family members, “...the words that everyone used were powerfully negative: ‘devastating,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘horrible’.”  Yet no concerns that would interfere with the victims’ self-responsibility could matter, since in the long run, caring about them would only mollycoddle and weaken the people who’d have to take care of themselves optimally.  Victim-blaming is incentives-based.  George Vincent wrote, “To survive growing up in an alcoholic family is second only to surviving the Holocaust,” but the big difference is that despite the fears that addicts’ kids feel, they aren’t really in mortal danger, so Buddhists, etc., could say that these fears are only illusions.  Victim correction as a panacea could be called chicken soup for the soul, unconditional serenity and courage.  If that’s stooping to the lowest of the low, then sometimes we’ve got to stoop to the lowest of the low in order to make sure that problems get solved by those who have the most reliable motivation to solve them.  Moral relativism becomes amoral absolutism; “Your righteous objections are only your opinion!” becomes, “Your righteous objections are only your self-righteous, resentful, manipulative, controlling, unpragmatic, whiny, judgmental... opinion, and you simply can’t afford those disgraceful victim attitudes!”

Yet though it might seem only natural to want to feel better by practicing Buddhistic self-discipline and self-re-education, and this doesn’t involve any medication, this is hardly natural.  In the words of Ayn Rand, “We the Living” could very much object to this sort of de rigueur coping with helplessness, Stoically!  Yet though a Marxist mentality of, “Love your brother,” is supposed to degrade the natural human spirit, a requisite mentality of, “As long as it’s your problem, ‘self-responsibility’ means courageously changing whatever you can and serenely accepting whatever you can’t,” mustn’t, or you might have problems coping with reality.  (Everybody loves The Serenity Prayer, right?)  In general, we do revere self-responsibility for one’s own welfare, and don’t revere self-responsibility for how one’s own choices affect others.  Victim-power seems to be the tyranny of helplessness, though, “But look at how helpless I am about what I did!” is the ultimate tyranny of helplessness.

In general, this sort of self-help is cognitive therapy, the modern version of behaviorist psychology, so this can be given the title of behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s classic book, Beyond Freedom & Dignity, pragmatic in such a way that’s far more important than such abstract niceties.  This represents what is good, what most motivates people to do what must get done, which is what those who have the problems should want.  If, instead, the advisee insisted on drawing his own honest well-founded conclusions about what was happening to him, he’d be told that he’d better realize how important it is that he think in whatever ways would maximize his chances of self-reliant success in solving such big problems.  What else could Alateen members, etc., be told, “Go right ahead and fail to deal with your problems adequately.”?

This self-help logic could be used interchangeably for all sorts of problems, including exploitative lovers of every variety, unemployment, and literally even cancer and getting up the mettle to fight it.  Responsibility for one’s own choices means blame, naiveté, and controlling (As Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society, “The power necessary to control the wicked is the danger, not the wicked,” and chances are that most of what contributes to our very unnaturally high rate of depression, isn’t even truly malicious.), while response-ability for one’s own problems means self-reliance, realism, and freedom.  Claiming, “You caused your own problem,” makes Victim Correction as a Panacea sound the most justifiable, while, “You’ve simply got to take response-ability for your own welfare, your own problem,” is the fallback position, since all problems must get taken care of.  The self-help formula for conflict resolution is for general public consumption, and it works.  If such sophistry weren’t so predictable and absolutist, just think of how often people could: lose faith, play the victim role, not do what needs to get done (by those most motivated to do it), etc.  Like Sarah Palin, this has both the appeal of going rogue, and the appeal of conformity.  America’s latest, most trendy, patriotic song begins, “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life.  And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife.”

In theory this means self-responsibility, self-reliance, gutsiness, anti-controlling, good coping skills, realism, conventionality, respectability, etc., but in practice this means that nothing except, “Can I change this?” including the most basic morality and concern for the weak, can really seem to matter.  Sure, you could recognize that destructive sinfulness is destructive sinfulness, but in the end you’d have to forgive it, or you’d be maladjusted and suffer the consequences of this weakness.  (“YOU VILL ENJOY!”)  Frank Buchman, leader of the Oxford Groups, the club on which AA and then Al-Anon was based and until recently was called “Moral Re-Armament,” (Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here, from 1935, includes Buchman in its list of currently trendy “Messiahs.”) said, “D’you know Heinrich Himmler?...  Say, you ought to know Heinrich.  He’s a great lad....  [Hitler] lets us have house-parties whenever we like.”  Anti-Nazi British travel-writer and journalist Robert Byron, who got a chance to observe Nazism up close, wrote in his diary, “Himmler apparently dotes on the Oxford Group [How cute.] and writes to its English members discussing their troubles with them,” so he was their Dear Abby.  This was the same Himmler who said, in his speech on October 4, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, “Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand.  To have stuck it out and at the same time—apart from exceptions caused by human weakness—to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard,” but that personal strength concerned one of the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like.  It’s pretty obvious what the “Dear Abby” version of that would advise those in trouble, who are members of an honored group of people who are working on their own resolute and impassively accepting attitudes.  Anything less than, “Happiness is an inside job,” (in general), or, “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” (in general), would have been too weak-spirited and blaming for Himmler, so he was their perfect “Dear Abby.”  The only suggestions that Himmler would have made in a Dear Abby letter, including one to an addict’s family member, would have been, (1) courageously change what you can, and, (2) serenely accept what you can’t, since anything else would have mollycoddled WEAKNESS.

Himmler Logic, after all, would focus on whether the person with the problem seems to have a weak (as in literally WEAK) character, and would be quick to interpret inadequacies in problem-solving as weaknesses of character, so the weak seem contemptible, blameworthy, and, possibly, insidiously dangerous.  This self-responsible self-help approach is also like the “exemplary dualism” of the Militia Movement, like classifying people as redbloods or mollycoddles, or as übermenschen or untermenschen; this preaches that those who seem to have (literally) strong characters are the allies of decent people so are at least forgiven, and those who seem to have (literally) weak characters are the enemies of decent people.  This leads to some predictable distortions in our conceptions of right, wrong, shame, etc.  Take the Nazi might-makes-right ethos, remove the racism and war crimes, and you’d have what Western culture considers to be the only conception of personal responsibility that works, which is what Hitler’s, Wagner’s and Nietzsche’s main inspiration, Schopenhauer, actually wrote about.

This was the original middle-class going rogue with conformity.  As It Can’t Happen Here says, “Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical—yes, or more obsequious—than America,” and devotion to anything that would imply, “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” would require obsequiousness of Biblical proportions.  The question of whether “it” can happen here, all depends on whether or not “it” includes the aspects of Nazism and Himmler that Buchman’s formula for living didn’t include; if not, “it” happens every day.  The “it” in It Can’t Happen Here included merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude racism (“It was understood... that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy at having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe....  The allegiance of all such Negroes as had the sense to be content with safety and good pay instead of ridiculous yearnings for personal integrity Sarason got by being photographed shaking hands with the celebrated Negro Fundamentalist clergyman, the Reverend Dr. Alexander Nibbs, and through the highly publicized Sarason Prizes for the Negroes with the largest families, the fastest time in floor-scrubbing, and the longest periods of work without taking a vacation.”), so the “it” in modern America could include merely an ambiguous, covert, attitude-of-gratitude form of the strong horrifying the weak.  A classic cliché expression is, “There is no alternative,” to the power dynamics of our economy, and another way to say this is that there is no alternative besides dictatorship and/or Zimbabwe-style economic failures, so every time that these power dynamics horrify us, we should be grateful that we’re not instead dealing with dictators’ outrages, and/or economic failures including massive unemployment, irrespective of any indefinable abstractions such as integrity.  If you’re in a Wagnerian conflict, and you simply must deal with your realities, then you simply must deal with them as Schopenhauer prescribed.  The psychology of, “You don’t want to think/act like a weak person, do you?” could be called a form of neo-Nazism.

 

 

Yet, in a society with rampant depression, one could just as easily call that “pragmatic logic”: the weak courageously change what they can (themselves) and serenely accept what they can’t (everyone else), and what one deserves is completely irrelevant.  You can’t change your enemies, except for one.  Yet the limits of the threshold of human endurance are a fact, and if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.

“Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” is all about what the weak should do, believe, and take responsibility for.  Even sophisticated psychology tends to classify people, aspects of human nature, desires, etc., into categories that are very German, Freudian: übermensch means ineradicable so at least forgivable, while untermensch means true shamefulness, suspiciousness.  (And, of course, treating this moral bankruptcy as necessary for realism seems a lot better than does treating this as admirably open-minded and gutsy.)  These Oxford members no doubt tended to take his ideas about coping skills, to heart, since they wanted self-improvement that would build fiber.  After all, we must accept that if you win, you win, and if you lose, you lose.  That self-responsible self-motivation is also how, and why, market discipline works; we must discipline even perfectly innocent failures.  The more that the weakness of the weak is blamed (What exactly is to blame when someone doesn’t protect himself well enough to succeed?): the more that they’d be motivated to take responsibility for taking care of themselves, the more hope that they’d have that they could change what causes their problems (themselves), and the more that we could all have faith in this red-blooded worldview.   Prejudice against the weak means an optimistic and patriotic faith in The System, and focusing on how the weak could hopefully solve their own problems if only they made themselves worthy, changed what they can.   Übermensch imperfection such as sinfulness would have to seem at least forgivable, while untermensch supposed imperfection would have to seem to be an insidious (as in “the hidden lie,” and, “We are all victims of victims.”) expression of weak people’s SELF-WILLS.  Dictator or no dictator, just about all of those in any society must define “personal responsibility” in basically the same predictable way and truly believe it, or different people would play by different rules, and plenty of people wouldn’t take the rules to heart when fortitude would be most necessary.  No doubt plenty of Oxford members who weren’t Himmler’s advisees, could have been just as easily, since they were just as free of whiny resentment; all “good” members followed the same school of psychology.

 

 

As far as self-help is concerned, the bottom line is that you’re simply going to have to deal with your own problem whatever it may be, and expectations that one simply deal with normal problems are interchangeable with expectations that one simply deal with an addict in the family.  “Personal strength,” “strength of character,” etc., tend to mean literally strength, transcending “weak” but natural and warranted feelings.  As Langdon Gilkey’s On Niebuhr says, “Thus transcendence is perhaps the key word in Niebuhr...”  For anyone in trouble, this would be: self-help, self-responsibility, self-care, self-protection, self-actualization, self-empowerment, etc.  As any conservative social analysis would say, you, that teen who looks like Archie, etc. could think productively, or think counterproductively (though if you’re the problem person, then probably we’ll just have to accept your counterproductive thinking, since people aren’t perfect and we mustn’t try to re-engineer human nature).  The effects of “Archie’s” dad’s actions are short-term (since others are motivated to resolve them), but the effects of Archie’s reactions are long-term (since others aren’t).  Twisting reality in “positive” ways is realistic, since it increases people’s chances of success.  Archie’s non-addicted parent (who’d really have to have a Gelassenheit “productive” attitude, what with all that she must do to make her family as normal as possible), has just as much autonomy as does the typical adult, since addicts’ power over others is physical, not authoritarian.

In general, motivation is everything; irrespective of moral responsibility, addiction or lack of it, etc., the only personal responsibility that we could count on is one in which those held responsible for problems are those motivated to take responsibility.  Charles P. Pierce’s Idiot America, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, says, “The [conservative] movement swallowed whole the quack doctrine of supply-side economics, adopting it with almost comically ferocious zeal,” and self-help, also, must follow this pattern, since in a gutsy and as-uncompromising-as-reality fashion, it holds that no matter how much others are responsible for your problems: if you win you win and if you lose you lose, that’s what’s realistic (what most reliably works), and that stupidity is a virtue in the name of freedom.  (We all know where intellectualism leads.)  Idiot America also says about a Cuban-American refugee who worked with AIDS patients in the early 1980s, “The situation reminded her a little of the way things had worked in Cuba, where the government would tell you something that you knew from your own experience could not possibly be true, yet people seemed willing to believe that it was, and to act upon that belief, until the manufactured reality displaced the actual one [which is also the classic definition of brainwashing, washing the brain of “bad attitudes”].  She felt she was working in parallel worlds.  There was the world of the disease, and of the people who had it; and then there was another world, in which everything was a symbol and in which her patients stood for something,” and one could say the same thing about this sort of self-help, where there’s the world of what people like Archie must actually deal with, and then there’s the world of what they symbolize: our duties regarding the never-ending virtues and necessity of response-ability for one’s own welfare, which shape what we should believe irrespective of what we’ve learned from experience, e.g. that Archie looks at himself.  (Marxism applies how cultural conditioning works, to shaping “the ideal society,” right?)

 

 

It’s amazing which moral norms could (i.e. must) seem less important than whether or not the person with the problem is doing what’s necessary for him to overcome it successfully.  That seems good; “whining” seems bad.  What’s most important in practical terms, might go very much against what we’d like to believe is important.  Banalities get things done.  Realism is the ultimate mandate.  This is the sort of Populism that H. G. Wells called “magnificent stupid honesty,” adamantly anti-manipulative-morality, so this sort of supposed populism would adamantly accept what causes 15% of the adult population to suffer serious depressive disorders in any given year.  (This “honesty” often has big unintended consequences, but could seem all-important.)  “Stop doing that, since it’s judgmental and controlling!” would probably make you at least hesitant, but, “Stop doing that, since that sort of thing has been proven to contribute to our very unnaturally high rates of depression and anxiety disorders!” would probably seem judgmental and controlling to you.  If this weakness-anathematizing conception of personal responsibility weren’t that absolutist, plenty of problems wouldn’t get resolved well enough, yet the fact that this is that absolutist, is pretty scary.  (Yet, the fact that so many stupid and reckless people got such important jobs on Wall Street, shows that even this very costly way of motivating winning could fail in very important ways, though they could always be excused as “inevitable human imperfection.”)  Sure, on Larry King Live on August 11, 2009, economist Ben Stein said, “Big government is a terrifying subject” (i.e. the kind that you could openly and proudly get terrified about), but you don’t dare say, “Big depression is a terrifying subject,” even if you’ve been there, or, “Big Wall Street greed is a terrifying subject.”  Also, on an interview on a Christian radio network, Stein said, “...science leads you to killing people.”  Magical thinking like this could seem more acceptable to economists, since they could always figure that consequences don’t really matter, since those who have the problems are always motivated to solve them; that “works.”  Self-help’s conception of which freedoms, self-determination, personal rights and responsibilities, etc., do, and which don’t, seem to matter, sounds like something right out of The Communist Manifesto (and certainly plenty of others in the 19th Century noticed this, too), “...in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade,” and since someone must take responsibility for the consequences of adversarialism, “self-responsibility” must mean that in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered forms of personal responsibility, we have set up that single, unconscionable personal responsibility—response-ability for one’s own problems.  (A better word than freedom might be right, i.e., “I have a right to expect something better!”  “No, the only right that you have is to become a winner by protecting yourself better, with proud self-reliance!”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, though we’re supposed to take addictive behavior as a given since addiction is a disease, the law certainly doesn’t treat addicts as not guilty by reason of insanity, one can’t be brought out of real legal insanity through “hitting bottom” or an intervention.  Addicts’ family members, who can’t change them, must minimize their responsibility and magnify the responsibility of their own reactions, but the law, which can change most addicts with whom it comes into conflict, doesn’t have to minimize and magnify.  As the publishers’ notes of Gene M. Heyman’s Addiction: A Disorder of Choice says, “He shows that the causes of addiction, its control, and its potential reduction are the same as the causes, control, and reduction of all voluntary behavior.”  (Certainly you could imagine what would result if someone said at an Al-Anon meeting, “But when he relapsed, it was because he got angry and chose to, not because he saw something that triggered a compulsion to drink!  That means that my objections are legitimate!” or even, “But the person who caused this problem, whom I can’t change, isn’t addicted!”)  Yet whether or not addiction is involved, you could always find some sophistry to make courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t seem legitimate, and ignore any facts that would disrupt this pragmatism; form follows function.  This, also, could be called “pragmatic logic,” applicable to any realities that contribute to our rampant depression.  Both an acceptance of an addiction, and an acceptance of aggressive human nature, are fatalism about unrestrained desires, what the pleasure centers of our brains make us do, etc.  What works for AA is what works for addicts, i.e. for addictive personalities, which would single-mindedly insist on: excuses to do what one pleases, stopping righteous indignation and “controlling,” etc.  The more that we serenely accept übermensch, active, imperfections, the more that we can’t afford to accept the untermensch, passive, imperfections of those hurt by them, and who, therefore, must deal with them in order not to be maladjusted maladaptive and dysfunctional.  If this wasn’t as simplistic and resolute as Reagan, their awareness that they’re victims would leave them both too weak by feeling helplessness and making unrealistic expectations, and too strong in that they could insidiously get the benefits of victimhood.

 

 

Your realities are whatever they are, and either you deal with them or you suffer the consequences.  NOTHING CAN LIMIT HOW MUCH ALL THIS COULD AFFECT YOU.  To paraphrase a Catholic riddle: “What’s the difference between a victim corrector and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist.”  As pioneering behaviorist John B. Watson wrote, “The raw fact that you, as a psychologist, if you are to remain scientific, must describe the behavior of man in no other terms than those you use in describing the behavior of the ox you slaughter, drove and still drives many timid souls away from behaviorism,” and the only real difference between behaviorism and cognitive therapy is that it credits humanity with self-control abilities that animals don’t have, such as the ability to choose to serenely accept hardship and sinfulness; training people who are motivated to be trained is a lot easier.  (This self-control would benefit the person who serenely accepts the hardship, sinfulness, etc. that he’s helpless to change, whether or not the person who caused the problem is addicted. )  As Paul Krugman wrote, “The truth is that good old-fashioned demand-side macroeconomics has a lot to offer in our current predicament—but its defenders lack all conviction, while its critics are filled with a passionate intensity,” and one could say the same for debates between those who stress personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own choices, which could usually be called “blaming,” “guilt-based,” “controlling,” etc., and the gutsy people who stress red-blooded personal response-ability for one’s own welfare, which could always be called “self-help,” “self-empowerment,” “realism,” etc.  As the Great Crash of 2008 shows, some things will never change.

 

THE GREATEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ONE, AIG ad from 2001, so if you tried to restrain this you’d seem profoundly: weak, whiny, defeatist, controlling, unrealistic, counterproductive, opinionated, manipulative, negative, moralistic, etc.  Sure, post-scandal AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy said, “I have seen the good side of capitalism.  But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism,” but one could also call the gutsiness of AIG in its PIG era, “character-building,” giving plenty of backbone and fortitude.

♦♦♦♦♦

 

Sure, Rush Limbaugh is more unpopular than Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright, and conservatives could be afraid that such aggressiveness looks “ugly” to the public.  Yet, especially if you’re in big trouble, if you thought like Limbaugh and the other attack politicians then you’d face up to your problems more serenely and courageously, and we dare not care how profoundly ugly is coaching Archie, etc., into having attitudes of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!”  If Himmler had sent you some “Dear Abby” letters that didn’t mention the Nazi practices that Buchman didn’t like, the advice that the letters would have given would have helped you become more resilient, courageous, self-responsible, realistic, and abiding by Gelassenheit (a fatalism that teaches that willfulness leads to self-defeating frustration if you’re helpless to get what you want or need), so you would have ended up with a stronger character.  Victim Correction as a Panacea, is Gelassenheit and similar all-encompassing attitudes about physical response-ability for one’s own problems, exactly what a society with rampant depression, anxiety disorders, etc., would most need.

Sure, Niebuhr wrote that he was shocked about Buchman’s admiration of Hitler, though The Serenity Prayer summarizes the book that most shaped Hitler’s thinking, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation:   As with a panacea, we must see the entire world in terms of the ineradicable SELF-WILLS of the sinful, the ignominious and surreptitious SELF-WILLS of victims who don’t represent their own bad experiences to themselves as being as innocuous as possible (“Those manipulative whiners want to believe that someone owes them something!”), and, therefore, our responsibility to do this.  Niebuhr wrote that Buchman’s faith that dictators, business tycoons, etc., should use their power to push Christianity, vapidly ignored how realpolitik would affect the outcome, “The slightest acquaintance with the history of Christian thought on the problem of the relation of the absolute demands of the gospel to the relativities of politics and economics would prove its childishness,” but the same could also be said about applying a simplistic sloganeering spirituality to the situations that contribute to our rampant depression.  It isn’t possible to get any more vapid than,“Serenely accept everything that happens to you in a society with rampant depression, that you’re helpless to change.”

The wave of the future, the “new economy” of self-responsibility, requires that we want to be responsible members of society, take response-ability for our own welfare.  With that approach you’d be more likely to succeed, and that’s good, maybe irreplaceable.  Your natural objections to this would be counterproductive (though you’re free not to hold others personally responsible by these standards, as long as you hold yourself responsible by them).  The same would go for minimizing any “whiny” lessons we might learn from the Great Crash of 2008.  If we can’t change wretched excesses on Wall Street but can change victims’ not fixing the consequences adequately, then either we correct the victims or we’ll have a dysfunctional society.  Since we simply must solve our problems, our perceptions must be distorted in order to fit in with this; there is no alternative.

 

 

(Cartoon generated by “Build Your Own Meat”)

 

Nothing can drive anyone away from this sort of cognitive therapy, just as nothing can drive Archie away from his unconditional and immoderate, contrived serenity and courage, though Gelassenheit is very unnatural social engineering.  In self-help books about codependency, stories in which the problem spouses are addicted are absolutely interchangeable with stories in which the problem spouses simply choose to act like buttheads, since in both cases the victims are equally unable to change the victimizers’ behavior.  Whatever you must do to take care of yourself, is whatever you must do to take care of yourself, so you must look at yourself when you’re looking for things that you could correct in order to solve your own problems.  Sure, the Financial Times on March 10, 2009 quoted Bernie Sucher, the head of Merrill Lynch operations in Moscow, as saying, “Our world is broken—and I honestly don’t know what is going to replace it.  The compass by which we steered as Americans has gone.  The last time I ever saw anything like this, in terms of the sense of disorientation and loss, was among my friends [in Russia] when the Soviet Union broke up,” but Americans have been culturally conditioned to serenely accept economic difficulties, and not to accept supposedly manipulative whining about them.  Those with plenty of “personal strength” would tolerate Wall Street Darwinism and its effects.  Archie could “get on with life” since folk wisdom, common sense, says that that’s what everyone must do; everyone could “stick it out.”  (On June 19, 2009 [just before the threatened bloodshed began, “On 9/11 we were all Americans, and tonight we’re all Iranians.”], when Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that they were going to crack down on the protests of the election fraud, he said, “If the political elite want to ignore the law or break the law then they are taking wrong measures...,” so dogmatists of all stripes excite their followers by condemning the supposed intellectual elite.)  Archie, and others who are powerless, couldn’t afford the dysfunctionality of feeling disoriented or lost.  Realism requires that this self-responsibility be the lynchpin, so any concern that would conflict with this must be shrugged off.  (Of course, this self-response-ability must include the same self-justifying, fatalistic, conformist, simplistic, “upbeat,” absolutist, unconditional, predictable, and dogmatically necessary illusions as laissez faire economics has, the very illusions that got our economy into such trouble; after all, people will do only what they feel motivated to do.)  We all must adjust to and deal with reality, and others determine what is reality for you, which tends to mean that the strong (whether or not they’re addicted) determine what is reality for the weak.  Resiliency is everything.

 

 

 

Wall Street, August 23, 1929,  “As I wrote last March, those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief….  That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.”—Alan Greenspan, testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008

 

 

That’s why self-help in general tends to admire Al-Anon, The Serenity Prayer, etc., and this self-reliant ethos.  The only thing that really matters is what you do and don’t have the power to change.  This is how the ideal American faces his own problems.  Since Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA who wrote much of their Big Book, was a stockbroker around the time of the Great Depression, one could call this The Great Depression Stockbroker’s Approach to Self-Responsibility; we’d have to be firm with those victims and whiners who object to productivity that involves strong character, such as “creative destruction,” and, “Your problem is your problem.”  The economist who, just after the Great Depression, came up with the concept of creative destruction, Joseph Schumpeter, also wrote during the Depression that recovery from it, “is sound only if it [comes] of itself.  For any revival which is merely due to artificial stimulus leaves part of the work of depressions undone and adds, to an undigested remnant of maladjustment, new maladjustment of its own which has to be liquidated in turn, thus threatening business with another [worse] crisis ahead.”  Daniel Gross’ Dumb Money says that Maestro Alan Greenspan, in an interview, “had an abstract fervor for the glories and potentials of creative destruction,” and, in the abstract, saying that alkies’ teens, etc., should have an attitude of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!” sounds just as proudly productive.

 

 

As Adrian Furnham’s 50 Psychology Ideas You Really Need to Know says, “People who believe that the events that occur in their lives are the result of their own behaviour and/or ability, personality and effort have less stress than those who believe events in their lives to be a function of luck, chance, fate, God, powerful others or powers beyond their control.”  The self-responsible would also have the advantage of resiliently and resourcefully looking for solutions, with plenty of determination, and the worse that their problems are, the more important this would be.  Blaming the victim always leads to the most pragmatic, well-motivated, solution, so the necessity of this isn’t partial, relative, or conditional.  We must fix those who’d want to be fixed, and they should want to be able to solve their own problems as well as they could.  Whether or not the person who’s causing you big problems is addicted, simply holding you response-able for your own welfare would be vitally realistic, since only you have a reliable motivation to solve your problem, and your solving it can always be treated as just a temporary hurdle so this, too, shall pass.  Whenever you tell your own story of someone causing you big problems, you could always follow it with, “So how could I have helped myself by reacting better?” and your advisor could always follow it with, “If you correct what you can change, yourself, you’d benefit.”  If you have what those who ran the Soviet psychiatric system called, “inflexibility of convictions,” you’d be thinking as if it’s more important to be right than to be happy (or productive), which of course must stop and it wouldn’t be necessary to lock you up or even do anything unnatural to make your thinking fit in, even to the point of alcoholics’ teens believing, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself, so I’m serene and courageous!”  Brainwashing, washing the brain of supposed dirt, could result from re-education camps, or from free-lance re-education that the educated people want since they want to fit in.  As Archie’s realities show, the worse that your problem is, the more important it is that you think “right.”  African-American street slang for victim-blaming is, “The Flip Game.”

Being morally right isn’t good enough, and might even look like a vainglorious and manipulative evasion of real responsibility.  As any cognitive therapist could tell you, those whose thinking is well-trained are those who could best cope with reality in a society with rampant depression, especially just after financial meltdowns.  If they don’t adjust to reality, they’d just have to get re-educated.  Winning debates that would prove that you’re in the right, isn’t how you win in life; you win by taking personal response-ability for your own welfare, which comes with its own set of ethical values.  Degradation is just a state of mind, that could be called egotistical (“I don’t deserve this!”).  Literally and inevitably, whatever anyone’s life is (including during the Great Depression), is “life on life’s terms,” “reality,” “life’s challenges,” etc., for him, what he must deal with in order to seem to have a strong character and adequate sense of responsibility.  Hardship, others’ sinfulness, etc., build character, just as economic recessions motivate efficiency and give us more “creative destruction.”  You’d be amazed how easily such anti-judgmental, anti-moralistic, etc., people have to criticize victims for having characters that aren’t strong enough, since they have to be strong enough to deal with their own problems.

 

On the CNN Money Summit program of January 30, 2009, Katie Benner, a writer from Fortune magazine, said, “It’s sort of like the moral hazard question and blaming people and feeling betrayed.  You have to put that aside and just work together [until, of course, these same financial companies resume their Darwinist approaches].  It’s like you can’t divorce the financial system.  It’s not like a spouse you can get rid of because they betrayed you.  We’re stuck with one another,” which is what your classic codependent enabling relationship looks like, especially when a Wall Street business carries on as if the more that its recklessness could hurt the financial system, the more that the government must bail it out if it fails, because of the “systemic risk” that would result from the company going bankrupt.  (Or, it could just threaten that the economy might melt down irretrievably if the company doesn’t get bailed out, which has been called “the ultimate Roach Motel,” since even if the crisis begins for the most surprising and uncontrollable reason, once you get in you can’t get out.)  Those who’d disagree with what she said would seem unrealistic, since such companies would have that power, which isn’t government tyranny, and the government bailouts would seem necessary.   Ayn Rand said, “I’m challenging the moral cult of altruism, which says, “everybody is enslaved to everybody,” and the self-help version of this would say that even necessary altruism could end up hurting the “helped” people in the long run since this could teach them to get what they want by being helpless.  Joe Nocera of the New York Times said that during Greenspan’s first meeting with Brooksley Born, the chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission who gave advance warning that unregulated derivatives are dangerous, he said that there’s no need to regulate for fraud, “I think the market will figure it out and take care of the fraudsters,” and the self-help version of this would say that one is as responsible for protecting himself against fraud as if the law didn’t prohibit it, as could be seen in the Madoff case.

 

internal Lehman Brothers document

 

“Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it, and if I don’t then I’ll be having a pity-party,” doesn’t seem to be moral relativism.  If Al-Anon/Alateen’s norms values definitions and expectations disagreed with those of Western cultures, then new members would feel culture shock and offense about divergent values, and people outside the groups wouldn’t consider those to be character-building.  Since you absolutely must focus your attention on what you should do better to solve your own problems whatever they may be, you must think along the lines of the victim-self-blaming of the cognitive distortions of modern Western depression, which Dr. David Burns, in Feeling Good, describes as: All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Mental Filter, Disqualifying the Positive, Jumping to Conclusions, Magnification [of what you can change] and Minimization [of what you can’t], Emotional Reasoning, Should Statements, Labeling and Mislabeling, and Personalization, i.e. attributing everything to your own reactions inadequacies and failures since you can change them, i.e. “Things happen.  It’s what we do when they happen that’s key,” in general.  Archie was trained to face his helplessness caused by someone else, with, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!” while it would have been more natural to think, “I’ll try to figure out what was my fault, and to what degree.”  Predictably, anyone who’s only partially solved his own problem must focus his attention on the one thing he’s failed to solve.  The fix is in (though fixed by untermensch-bashing cultural norms rather than by a conspiracy).

 

 

Likewise, you’d simply have to deal with whatever consequences of 2008’s economic meltdown, “Our entire economy is in danger,” would affect you, including the consequences of the government’s strong reluctance to “control” the businesses it should have been regulating adequately and “great, great confidence in our capital markets and in our financial institutions.”  That’s how people in trouble must take care of themselves self-reliantly.  As Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson said on Larry King Live on March 9, 2009 about a nearby shantytown close to where a Depression-era shantytown once stood, “And I think what’s happening in our city is we have to make sure that we have tough love.  We have to find a balance being compassionate on one hand, and then also a zero tolerance.”  The most crucial thing in our economy is that people feel motivated to do what they must do, and whatever are the consequences of that, are the consequences.  Intercultural studies have consistently found that self-blame as a symptom of depression, anxiety, etc., is unique to Western and Westernized people.  Response-ability for your own welfare, means response-ability for how well you’ve faired.  Depressed people who’ve lived outside of the modern West have tended to feel paranoid, but modern Westerners, whether depressed or not, tend to figure that even if someone did “get you,” that would mean only that you lost the battle so you’re a loser; you must “look at yourself” so you could independently resiliently and resourcefully find a solution to your problem.  In the long run, it would get solved.  Once anyone has caused you a problem, he’d be helpless to turn back the clock and undo it and you’d be response-able for your own welfare, so he’d be the helpless one and you’d be the responsible one.  We don’t care about that sort of thing anymore, since we’ve learned that rewarding victimhood doesn’t work, is counterproductive.

Naturally you’d have a zero tolerance toward your own serious problems that you’ve so far failed to solve.  We take for granted that this is what “personal responsibility” sometimes has to mean, just as we usually take for granted that most of what causes our rampant depression and anxiety is just life’s normal imperfection.  Bill Wilson’s attitude toward losers (however they lost) who don’t just deal with their own problems, was basically the same as Rick Santelli’s is now.  Evasions of, and even weakness and failures in, this are the sort of breakdown of personal responsibility that we do seriously try to stop, without seeming naïve about human nature.  Self-help means that if it’s your problem then you provide the help, which is why self-help for people in trouble in general has really taken to the AA-Al-Anon approach, so Archie is more than just emblematic of self-reliant self-empowerment for people in trouble in a society with rampant depression.  One simply has to do certain things to get through life, and anything that would conflict with them can’t seem more important or pressing.  Sure, the government can afford to balance a zero tolerance with (relative) compassion, but you can’t.  Even Lehman Brothers’ in-house Introduction to Management course stressed that managers show empathy toward employees (We’ll find out how much greed and stupidity this empathy applied to.), but we mustn’t show empathy toward those who don’t serenely accept whatever they can’t change.  Just as “The Greenspan Put” was whatever the economic problem, lower the interest rate, one could say that “The Wilson Put” is whatever your personal problem is, correct you.  All this has the simplistic emotionalist and insistent quality of anti-intellectualism.  As the Wikipedia webpage on Phil Gramm begins, “Gramm often noted in his political campaigns that he had repeated three grades in school but had overcome his academic deficiencies by hard work.”

 

(“I only want to help!”)

 

This realism is something like, as World Bank president Robert Zoellick said on March 13, 2009, “The International Monetary Fund research of some 122 financial and economic crises shows that turnaround can’t happen unless you clean up the bad assets and recapitalize the banks,” it can’t matter what they did to cause such huge problems for everyone or what recapitalizing them would cost, and we’re to fix every big bankers’ crisis like this as well as fixing whatever problems it causes in our own lives.  This “clean up the bad assets” means that the government nanny-ism must go beyond bailouts, to actually taking care of the banks by fixing whatever needs to be fixed, enough to save them.  If money distributed to middle-class people wouldn’t really fix an economic meltdown, while money distributed to the rich people who caused the problem would work, then the only thing that really matters is what works, not why that’s what works or that they’d likely abuse the moral bankruptcy.  The engine of America’s prosperity is that the people whose welfare is at stake have the personal response-ability, since they’re the ones with the most reliable motivation to get the engine moving, irrespective of any “excuses” they may have.  If someone who isn’t addicted won’t stop causing you problems, then in taking care of yourself (even if this requires a good deal of effort and sacrifice), the only thing that would really matter is what would work, not why that’s what would work or that he’d likely abuse the moral bankruptcy.  As Archie could tell you, there’s very little limit to what realism would unquestionably require, as long as one’s material realities in the real world would make the morally responsible option too unrealistic.  This could seem even more natural within families, since we must understand when people act outrageously (maybe even violently) within their own comfort zones.  Alcoholics are far more likely to beat up family members than their own bosses, though if the alcoholics really were just passive victims of their diseases and inebriation, they’d be just as likely to beat up anyone who frustrated them.

 

 

Since resiliency could make just about anything go away, Bush also talked about faith in our economic “resilience” regarding the financial crisis of 2008.  This gutsy and self-responsible moral bankruptcy, “Care only about whether you can change it,” is de rigueur.  There can be no exemptions to self-responsibility and self-care.  Whenever so much is at stake, there’s no room for debate.  As long as there’s no end to what could happen to you in reality, there’s no end to your self-responsibility to deal with reality.  If you really cared that depressive disorders affect 34,000,000 American adults, you’d seem to be a maladjusted nutcase.  The title of the chapter about Reaganist deregulation, of Charles R. Morris’ The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown, is, “Wall Street Finds Religion,” and that’s how this fundamentalist and very demanding religion (“But that’s where a quarter-century of diligent sacrifice to the gods of the free market has brought us.”), must construe who are the sinners with the defects of character, and who are the martyrs.  This religion would also say to have faith that, in the long run at least, you get what you deserve and deserve what you get.  If Archie doesn’t stop blaming others or look at himself, he’d likely be given

 

 

That is, treated as Ayn Rand would have treated someone who said, “But I’m a victim, so you owe me better!” as if he’s: whiny, manipulative, pity-partying, controlling, etc.  Though strenuously treating the weak who aren’t adequately self-reliant, as The Enemy, might sound a lot more offensive than would be some non-violent left-wingers’ strenuously treating the strong as The Enemy, it’s very easy to see the weak as having a very insidious terrifying and convention-spurning “victim power.”  The ways in which one can correct the weak (pressuring them to try to take care of themselves better, which they’d naturally want to do), seem a lot less offensive than are the ways in which one can correct the strong (“the power of the gun,” moralistic guilt, self-righteousness, emotionalistic manipulative machinations, naïve niceties, etc.).  The sizes of government and other morality-based restrictions seem like very pressing issues, but the sizes of our rates of depression and anxiety disorders don’t really seem to matter at all, and caring about them would probably seem bad.  Objectivism is a philosophy, so it can interpret and label anything as anything, and blame everything on factors that break its rules.  One who writes novels could make people seem morally response-able for their own problems.  Absolutist extremism can be as popular as Reagan.  You must believe in certain ideas in order to have “productive attitudes” in all circumstances, which would benefit you, especially in the worst circumstances.  Even George Soros might consider a society with rampant depression to be an open society.  No one has an inalienable right to endurability.  As Malcolm S. Salter wrote in Innovation Corrupted, The Origins and Legacy of Enron’s Collapse, “Under what my Harvard colleague Chris Argyris terms ‘defensive reasoning,’ tacit premises are tested, if at all, against the self-referential logic used to create them,” which is very tempting to do when the logic has that Enron spirit and groupthink: seems pro-freedom and anti-victim-power.  As the inspirational artistic and Globalist Enron commercial with the robot said, “We inherit some ideas that are unnecessary!  We have to jettison that excess baggage, in order to make progress.”  This has to mean plenty of sophistry in the same absolutist “pro-freedom” spirit as, “Since SEC regulation was so ‘light-touch’ that it allowed Madoff to get away with it for decades, that only proves that the guv’mint is incompetent.”  (How else could one justify, “As long as it’s your problem, ‘self-responsibility’ means courageously changing whatever you can and serenely accepting whatever you can’t.”?)

 

 

Realistically, in a society with rampant depression, these are the same absolutist labels that would make people in trouble most likely to succeed, magnificently self-reliantly:  Self-respecting people with strong characters, accept greed.  Serenity means Gelassenheit.  Just after the first time that the derivatives market crashed due to stupidity, in 1994, Congress considered but didn’t pass regulations on them, and Christopher Whalen, director of a Washington lobbying firm, said, “[The International Swaps and Derivatives Association] came to Washington [led by a Libertarian] telling everyone they’re stupid.  Their message was that everything is okay [in derivatives]—a blanket statement, boom.  That strategy has convinced everybody in Washington that they have something to hide,” though Congress didn’t pass the regulations since they love freedom innovation optimism and red-blooded realism.  Yet when it comes to correcting victims in our day-to-day lives, knee-jerk blanket statements that accept problem people, and treat unpragmatic victims (and others who don’t “get it” a la Skilling) as dangerously unwise, seem necessary for all-around pragmatism.  If you’re the person in trouble, then caring about you would seem to be along the lines of social welfare programs that have been proven not to work, to lead to people getting what they want by “proving” their victimhood.  What personal problems don’t have to be taken care of this unconditionally, where the only thing that really matters is what oneself can or can’t change?  This is how the ideal American faces his own problems, and with the right philosophical sophistry and popular support, anything could look ideal.

Of course everyone must take care of himself, whatever happens to him.  This is also how market discipline disciplines.  If anything else seemed to matter, that would be subjective: blaming, excuses, moralism, idealism, manipulative machinations, mollycoddling or victimology that could only weaken the victims, etc.  The more that you blame the victims, the more faith that you’d have that we all ultimately have self-determination, and that they could lead happy lives if only they took care of themselves better—very uplifting and necessary.  Nothing can drive those who must care about the demands of reality, away from this.  Our economy and its norms must sometimes do things that would naturally cause resentment anger and/or fear, and since these could be debilitating (and manipulative) emotions we must get them under control.  Form follows function.  Needless to say, self-responsibility would help Archie like nothing else could, whether or not his problem parent was addicted.  That’s common sense; either we define “common sense” like this, or we’d suffer the consequences of the weak not trying hard enough.  (This way we’re vulnerable to the SELF-WILLS of only the strong, whereas if we compromised with the caring approach, we’d be vulnerable to the SELF-WILLS of both the strong and the weak.)  You don’t have a right to expect better than this; you don’t have a right to expect anything that you can’t earn or achieve.  Liquidate any constructs that say that you’re entitled to better.  If someone else caused you big problems, you’d be in the same ignominious pigeonhole as those who choose to be passive, parasitical, etc., since what would really matter is that you take care of yourself better.  We mustn’t care about this sort of inefficiencies.  The fabric of our society depends on that self-motivated self-responsibility for one’s own welfare; it certainly can’t depend on people acting morally responsible.  Weak people suspected of being irresponsible or surreptitiously self-serving, can’t be presumed innocent until proven guilty since one couldn’t prove that.  Also, we can’t afford to allow victim-power, so it would be very easy to buy the illusion that the weak are at fault.  Any real alternative to what causes our rampant depression, would seem anti-freedom.

What contributes to our rampant depression is as inevitable as Marxism says it is, but if the victims react pragmatically, the long-term effects wouldn’t be so bad.  No one’s going to subsidize Archie’s efforts to deal with his own problems, and such response-ability for how others affect you, isn’t considered to be a subsidy of them.  In Atlas Shrugged Rand implied that we aren’t really entitled to anything better than a 19th Century covered-wagon lifestyle, and who’s to say objectively what he’s really entitled to?  Controlling others is what’s truly immoral.  Übermensch imperfections seem red-blooded, and untermensch supposed imperfections seem ignominiously and manipulatively mollycoddle.  Though all this might seem amoral, those who don’t live up to expectations would have to seem bad, with insidiously dangerous “victim-power.”  Even Archie must do and believe certain “productive” and “well-adjusted” things, yet this self-responsibility and self-improvement aren’t coercion, or re-engineering human nature.  It doesn’t matter what caused your problem, what you deserve, etc., only that fairness, money, etc., has to come from somewhere, be provided by someone, and you’re ignominious manipulative and naïve if you think that you’re entitled to have someone provide for youAtlas Shrugged also includes, “Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force.  Money is made possible only by the men who produce....  Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow,” and not an ocean of tears will solve your problem; only your successfully producing results could.  Atlas Shrugged says, “There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil,” and self-help would say, “For the person who has the problem to take half-measures, would avail him nothing and could even be called an insidiously passive-aggressive attempt to seem to be trying, yet fail.  If the (well-motivated) victims don’t take complete responsibility for their own problems, they likely won’t get completely solved.”  Also, when saying that charity simply is the opposite of justice, “But you always hear [accusations of insensitivity] said by a rotter about those who treat him as a rotter, those who don’t feel any sympathy for the evil he’s committed or for the pain he suffers as a consequence,” (She defined evil as Nietzsche did, as, “whatever springs from weakness,” unless the weak take response-ability for their own problems.) and since the uncharitability doesn’t distinguish between rotters who deserve to rot and those who don’t, this would include Archie and his unconditional self-responsibility.  (We can’t really define what the fault for big problems is, so we can’t really define what evil is; we can’t afford to make this contingent on evil intent.)  If you cause someone big problems, you also make him into an evil rotter unless he takes care of himself adequately (solves them).  And, of course, calling this evil doesn’t seem judgmental.

 

         

 

If you can’t change anything, a lack of serenity about it would be magical thinking, since even an ocean of tears would be immaterial.  We must accept that Wall Street takes big risks since a market economy is inherently risky, but you must have faith that you get what you deserve, and deserve what you get.  If we allowed excuses for the individual not taking personal response-ability for his own welfare, who couldn’t come up with enough excuses, which would only hurt him in the long run even if they were perfectly accurate?  We must remember why we can’t just forgive, shrug off realistically, etc., the dangers of emotionalistic righteousness, manipulative victim-power, negative attitudes, passivity, etc.  Those who think like this wouldn’t learn anything from the Great Crash (other than, “Now Wall Street has learned its lessons about the stupid things it did.”), since what could have been learned would be sardonically condemned as mollycoddling, intellectualist, anti-freedom, not really important, unrealistic about the fact that we must reward winning and punish losing in order to motivate people, etc.  This isn’t juvenile, since certain people do take responsibility for the consequences, so all problems end up resolved.

 

Without this rousing faith, too many losers would have too many excuses, and even legitimate excuses have a price.

 

We could distinguish between the sort of nihilism and moral relativism that’s as all-American as creative destruction, and the kind that isn’t.  Objections to others’ destructive behavior could be disputed vehemently, as if they’re: judgmentalism, controlling, guilt-tripping, victimhood, passivity with hidden agendas, etc.  Both Schopenhauer and Reagan/Greenspan would have said that these are usually insidious, so they can’t be proved or disproved but we can’t just let them happen, and we certainly mustn’t reward them!  Some of this anti-repression is along the lines of psychoanalysis (very Germanic).  Some is along the lines of red-blooded and character-building freedom, self-response-ability, and getting what we deserve as in “creative destruction” (very American).  As Christopher Cox said just after the 1994 derivatives crash ($1,500,000,000,000.00 lost), “I’m concerned that now anything called a derivative will be considered inherent evil in Congress.  It is sort of like a fire hose: In the wrong hands, it is dangerous,” (Plenty of deregulation followed.) and you can’t defend yourself from a fire hose being abused, without looking as if you’re on the side of evil.  For the most part, whatever happens to you would seem to justify or at least excuse itself, since if you’re worthy you’ll prevent or solve your problems, and if you’re not, you won’t.  A competitive economy in which whatever results from the power-plays is whatever results, is the epitome of efficiency as our culture defines it.  It seems that empathy is for social workers, the sort of people who are ruining our society.  It’s no wonder that self-help and its millions of believers love the AA, courageously change what you can and serenely accept whatever you can’t, approach to life!

 

(That’s life on life’s terms.)

 

 

Depression is the only dread disease of which many of the causes seem sacrosanct.  Sure, it’s now being proven that the severe “stress” that can easily flare up in poor families can cause the poor kids to later have problems with depression, substance abuse, their short-term memory and learning ability, etc., but of course safety from that would have to come from somewhere, be provided by someone, and of course you’re ignominious, manipulative and naïve if you think that you’re entitled to have someone provide for you.  Our economy promotes moral responsibility through companies being motivated to act responsibly toward certain people, but if the person you’re dealing with isn’t motivated to act responsibly toward you, tough nookies.  In the long run, accepting people’s victimhood would teach them to be weak and manipulative.  We can afford to forgive sinfulness, but not this.  Sure, many who deserve to win will lose, but few who deserve to lose will win and we need this to motivate people to try to win.  If we cared about losers who deserve to win, then: this would involve authority deciding “what is good,” what worthy losers would get (which may total up to a lot) would have to come from somewhere, we wouldn’t really know that they wouldn’t end up winning on their own in the long run, and losers who deserve to lose could become entitled winners by “proving” that they deserve to, which, naturally, every loser would want to do.  An unconditional faith in all this would mean unconditional faith in self-motivation, self-responsibility, our resiliency, realism, and freedom.  (We can’t afford conditions, especially after the economic meltdown.)  None of the massive helplessness that Schumpeter approved of came from the government, which means that the helplessness would seem acceptable, which means that you must accept it in order not to seem dysfunctional.  As White House press secretary Ari Fleischer unabashedly said after Bush admitted that the Iraq-Niger-uranium documents are fake, “Yes, the president has moved on.  And, I think, frankly, much of the country has moved on, as well,” and expecting those victimized by the economic meltdown to just move on would seem even more reasonable, since if they don’t they’ll face their big problems dysfunctionally.  Our passively and helplessly waiting for “green shoots” to appear in the economy after spending all that money on the bailouts, means freedom, since the timing of “green shoots” would result from what the individual freely chooses to buy or not to buy.

 

 

Archie (and others with very limited options) must think and do certain things, and are helpless, but everyone knows that since no authority figures are decreeing what they must think and do or making them helpless, that’s freedom.  In the real world, sometimes fighting for freedom means fighting for things that look painful, morally bankrupt, etc., though with the right adamantly pro-freedom sophistry, this would end up looking good: stolid, realistic, self-responsible, anti-controlling, anti-mollycoddle, anti-untermensch, productive, character-building, optimistic (that in the long run we get what we deserve), patriotic, etc.  That’s among our fundamental principles.  Everyone knows that if Wall Street greed, directed by regulation, does something bad that wasn’t expected, this would be unintended consequences of the regulation, and if instead you considered it to be consequences of the greed, you’d seem unrealistic (We can change the regulations but we can’t change greed.), mollycoddle, negativist, etc.  We want to believe.  As Robert Heiner’s Social Problems, an Introduction to Critical Constructionism says, “Contempt for the poor could be considered a form of American patriotism in that it is a reaffirmation of the belief in America as the land of opportunity,” and the same would go for any other adult who’s having economic problems.  Those who are in any sort of serious trouble (millions of people) often have to use the same self-responsible sophistry, cognitive distortions, in order to be adequately productive and goal-oriented, and to have faith that Westerners have self-determination.  Even if things could keep functioning only if victims simply took care of their own problems, then of course it’s still all-important that things keep functioning; there is no alternative.

 

 

Fighting for self-responsibility could feel very exciting.  You don’t have a right to fear this, since you don’t have a right to expect better than winning what you win and losing what you lose.  That’s justice; if it’s yours, then it’s yours, and if it isn’t, then it isn’t.  After all, our economy keeps working and prospering despite all the greed and chaos since everyone feels motivated to take response-ability for whatever problems this causes him, and he has the freedom to do this self-reliantly.  Whether or not the person who caused the problem is addicted, etc., the victim taking response-ability for his own welfare is what works, means efficiency, i. e. with the greatest motivation no matter what costs this brings about.  (You’d better not whine about costs like these, either in the economy or within your family!)  The fear felt by the person who has the problem, would motivate him far more than moral responsibility would motivate the person who caused it.  Realism must mean banal and vapid materialism, and profundity that would disagree would be unrealistic.  If we let people get what they wanted by proving their victimhood, then that’s exactly what they’d do; who’s to say what hardship, sinfulness, etc., is, and what isn’t, “just the way that life goes sometimes,” a very un-objective question?  This must be as uncompromising as Ayn Rand admitted herself to be, since the demands of reality, and of self-reliance, don’t compromise; there is no alternative.  Assertiveness seems manipulative, since even the most sincere person would want to believe that he’s entitled to more than what he’d won.  As The World as Will and Representation says, the concepts of bad and evil ignominiously express “everything that is not agreeable to the striving of the will in each case,” which might sound stereotypically Nazi, unless you’re in a situation in which you’re legitimately objecting to what someone did to you, and your self-help advisors act as if your objections reflect your resentful, manipulatively desirous, passive-aggressive, pity-partying, self-righteous, unrealistic, victimhood, etc., SELF-WILL.

 

 

Each major depressive episode (and, probably, what caused it) is temporary, but dictatorships tend to be at least fairly permanent.  Paul Krugman (We must all be realistic.) wrote, “There is an old European saying: anyone who is not a socialist before he is 30 has no heart, anyone who is still a socialist after he is 30 has no head.  Suitably updated, this applies perfectly to the movement against globalization,” including child labor “in sweatshops” (There is no alternative, other than worse poverty and maybe child prostitution.), and the same could conceivably be said about anyone who wants natural (or even close to natural) rates of depression and anxiety disorders.  Sure, as Anne Lamont wrote in Bird by Bird, “Reality is unforgivingly complex,” but whatever your realities are, you’re supposed to simplify them to courageously changing what you can and serenely accepting what you can’t; “bird by bird” won’t accomplish anything for you.  We couldn’t afford to care about complexities (other than the complexities in the tactics of how we solve our own problems), since every situation has complexities.  If your back is against the wall, you simply must serenely accept this fact.  If this wasn’t so consistent predictable dogmatic and automatic, then not everyone would take response-ability for their own welfare.  The real world simply has its requirements.  Neo-Conservatives would love this folksy “perception management.”  Yet as a New York Times op-ed said about the financial meltdown, “When you shout at people ‘be confident,’ you shouldn’t expect them to be anything but terrified.”  Endurability isn’t just something that someone preaching on a soapbox would say would be nice.  This is the tragedy of victim correction, that realism simply must be oriented around the fact that you absolutely can change what’s tactically wrong with your own reactions, and absolutely can’t change what’s morally wrong with others’ actions; not being realistic would be ridiculous (said sardonically, or maybe to encourage victims to empower themselves in what laissez faire economists would call “tough love,” though the expression “tough love” originally meant the authoritarian and coercive approach that parents could use on their teenagers who have drug problems and the like).  Our economy reward$ those who think like this.  And even if this sort of thinking leads to a worldwide economic catastrophe, it could always be blamed absolutely on the supposedly mollycoddle weak.  (We all know how insidiously dangerous they are!)

 

This picture, taken in 2003, proudly shows financial regulators from the Bush administration along with lobbyists for the bankers (the guys with the shears), uncompromising in their pro-freedom approach.

 

Self-reliance and self responsibility where if you win you’re a winner and if you lose you’re loser, seem to be The Great Liberator.  As Bush’s Chairman of the SEC (“We Madoff!”) Christopher Cox testified before Congress on October 23, 2008, “I think it’s vitally important that we never fail to appreciate how powerful a means of wisdom markets can be in allocating scarce resources in a nation of 300 million people and a world of 6 billion people,” and this is how the markets allocate scarce resources.  Freedom from government and other “control” is a sacred American tradition, but endurability isn’t.  (As Greenspan wrote in an “Objectivist” publication in 1963, “At the bottom of the endless pile of paper work which characterizes all regulation lies a gun.”  Private property, also, comes from guns, but our culture labels it and its consequences as freedom that you’d better not disagree with.  Recently in his private dining room at the Fed, he told a senior regulator, “We will never agree on the issue of fraud, because I don’t think there is a need for laws against fraud,” since all-important competition is supposed to motivate traders to have reputations for honesty; if you win you win, and if you lose, you lose.)  Aggressiveness seems ineradicable, and our objections to it seem eradicable.  The only question that really matters is, “Are you dysfunctional?” since only that must make a big difference in your own life; anything that anyone else does, doesn’t have to.

 

 

The moral bankruptcy is a tragedy in the ancient Greek dramatic sense, meaning that if all that victims could respectably care about is whether or not they can change things, moral bankruptcy and immunity from accountability would inevitably result.  As can be seen in Nietzsche, the weak could easily seem to be the dangerously WILLFUL ones, since everyone’s beliefs regarding what they deserve are shaped by their own SELF-WILLS, and the weak can exercise their supposed SELF-WILLS only in ways that would seem mollycoddle, “dishonest” and “ignominious,” whereas red-blooded strength is “honest,” proud, and at least forgivable (i.e. must be forgiven).  We must appreciate all the hidden dangers of unchecked “victim-power.”  As Niebuhr wrote, power, which would include victim-power, “cannot be wielded without guilt, since it is never transcendent over interest,” over (hidden and surreptitious) SELF-WILL, though we dare not talk in such overgeneralized terms when passing judgment on overt sinful power.  The fabric of our society depends on the self-responsibility of, “I’ve stopped blaming others and I’m looking at myself!”  Blaming victims helps them find solutions.  We fear fearmongering, but not greed-mongering.  “Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is not as I would have it,” could happen to anyone.  Economist Steven Landsburg said, “Most of economics can be summarized in four words: ‘People respond to incentives.’  The rest is commentary,” and that’s also how this sort of self-help could be summarized: You’re the only one who has a reliable incentive to solve your problems, and nothing that disagrees with this “natural” pragmatism could matter, no matter what chaos and helplessness result.

 

 

 

Just imagine how this conception of self-responsibility would look, if people could see how much depression, anxiety disorders, etc., our normalcy creates, including some helplessness that “everyone knows” is just life’s inevitable imperfections that normal people will adjust and adapt to!  Much of this is actually beyond the threshold of human endurance, unfit for human consumption!  The post-Reagan/Thatcher conception of personal responsibility is like an economic bubble, in that excited, sardonic, “optimistic” emotions will keep pushing this to get bigger and bigger, since it seems necessary for freedom, realism, etc., and it will finally get so big that the bubble pops.  Awareness of the magnitude of this social problem, is a groundswell waiting to happen!  As Sacrilege, Sexual Abuse In the Catholic Church, by Leon J. Podles, says, “The long suppression of scandals, like the suppression of forest fires, made the resulting explosion [of people caring about them] all the worse,” and the same could be true about the supposedly whiny, maladjusted, etc., awareness of what causes our rampant depression.  Is there really an alternative to caring what the threshold of human endurance really is?  We don’t know yet what our past is going to be.  (Maybe, “Wow, at one time, we thought that depressive disorders affecting 34,000,000 American adults: were among the diseases that are parts of the natural order, were either 34,000,000 rather severe character flaws or 34,000,000 rather severe medical conditions, and were just deficiencies of Vitamin P so if the millions of sufferers used mega-medication or maybe chose to have better attitudes, that would have solved The Problem!”)

 

         

 

  

 

Doremus had never heard [Fascist politician] Windrip during one of his orgasms of oratory, but he had been told by political reporters that under the spell you thought Windrip was Plato, but that on the way home you could not remember anything he said....

“one tenth of 1 percent of the population at the top have an aggregate income equal to 42 percent at the bottom....  But what burns me up is the fact that even before this Depression, in what you folks called prosperous times, 7 percent of all families in the country earned $500 a year or less—remember, those weren’t the unemployed, on relief; those were the guys who had the honor of still doing honest labor....  eighteen cents per day per person for food!—and even the lousiest prisons allow more than that....

“You know—fellow gets discussing economics in college—theoretically sympathetic—but to see your own kids living on eighteen cents a day for grub—I guess that would make a man pretty extremist!...

“Look here, when you think of 3 per cent of the people owning 90 per cent of the wealth...”—Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here, 1935

The wealthiest 1 percent now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.”—Michael Moore, on Larry King Live, November 1, 2009

 

 

                 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 


 

 Home Page

 About Us, Introduction

About Us, the Summary

 About Us, Index

My Story

To The [Abuse] Survivors ♥♥♥♥♥

Men Dying for Love

On Doping

Oh, Yeah?” Upbeat Echoes from the First Great Stock Market Crash

Victim Correction as a Panacea, the Summary (Page 1)

(Page 2)(Main Page 3)

Cancer Victims Corrected Too

The Main Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Documentation On the Social Problem of Unnaturally Rampant Depression

 Standard Rationales for Victim Correction as a Panacea

 Schopenhauer on Predators

 Emphasis on Victim-Self-Blaming

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Sales Tips

Darwinist Lehman Brothers’ INSIDE Introduction to Management Book

Out of the Same Mold as the Great Crash of 2008

Message for Intellectuals in the Islamic World

Candace Newmaker’s Experience

Breaking Important Confidences for Your Own Good

A Glimpse Into the Soul of Victim Correction

Cigarette Industry and Victim Correction

Niebuhr’s Ideas on Our Nature and Destiny

Herbal Experiences for Women

Some Ideas for Rapport

Hotlinks