“Don’t surround yourself with yourself.”
Those who remember, know the band well and true name of the music: Yes and “I’ve Seen All Good People”.
Theirs was a part of the ethos of the English-borne 1970s.
And here, 2012, far from those halcyon days, their art for the ears continues to resonate.
“Don’t surround yourself with yourself” — I should take the advice and perhaps others should take it for themselves as well.
My interest in the narcissistic dimension of political psychology started off with the direct and real space experience of personalities exhibiting mild to severe bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder while in cyberspace I happened to be surfing conflicts and discovering for myself any number of autocratic regimes and the mess and misery they were able to bring to their hapless constituents.
My two-plus-two equaled the invention of a convenient catch-all: “Facsimile Bipolar Narcissistic Sociopathy (FBPS)“, which section exists on the Typepad hosted old site.
(For this blog, the “Conflict – Culture – Language – Psychology” category should suffice, as I hope the whole production will not be so all over the place as the other, which I had created to showcase some other things I could do).
With the FBPS concept articulated, a networked opportunity to post an op-ed in the Daily Times (Pakistan) — “Beware the Malignant Narcissist” — and Facebook-enabled international activity, I found online another personality engaged on a similar track, Pakistani scholar Mobarak Haider, the author of Taliban: The Tip of a Holy Iceberg.
(In science, it is generally taken as a good thing to arrive at similar observations and insights by way of separate tracks — remember: theories stand until disproved, always, but they may be strengthened too by the arrival of new data — and that appears to be what has happened).
To move on: politics draw a variety of social competitors — advisers, leaders, warriors — and among the same, some may carry within themselves the over-the-top, unconstrained, boundary-confused, and often sadistic egotism of the malignant narcissist, and these too full of themselves no one needs.
As I type this, the intelligence of the world moves quickly in tens upon tens of thousands of communications per hour, and so it is I happen to participate in the Facebook presence of the Rationalist Society of Pakistan (the organizational site has been listed to the left). One of my Facebook buddies, Lakhkar Khan Hoti, posted there a statement by President Obama extolling the contributions made by Islam to humanity, which I interpret as part of the President’s promise to “extend the hand of peace” to Islam, and requested comment.
As professionals in a social-networking community may do, the original poster was asked to cite his source.
I had a source to something similar (having commented recently on Obama’s behavior in relation to Islam at Oppenheim Arts & Letters) and shared it this way:
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.
To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”
There are some things humans — individually, in aggregate, without regard to legacy — may wish to entertain as twined language, technology, and trade capacities continue to contract and integrate lives and lifestyles across our ever gregarious species. Start with the meaning and significance of self-concept in relation to others and whether certain degrees of glorious narcissistic self-aggrandizement have a place in anyone’s better future, not least of all Pakistan’s.
My interest in political psychology and the dimension referred to as “narcissism” was inspired by encountering in my web-borne travels so many tawdry dictatorships — the junta in Burma; Robert Mugabe (thank him for reintroducing cholera to his people) in Zimbabwe; Paul Biya whose French connections and chateau keep him comfy while his people starve in Cameroon; etc. Copy and paste “African Dictator” into your browser, and you should come up with a blog titled and devoted to just that subject, quite colorful. And awful.
One might suggest there’s some difference too between overt religiosity and deep and rightly cherished spirituality.
There may be a good track in humanity enforced by our natural and overwhelming propensity to enjoy one another despite whatever hardships we may be enduring.
Where conditions have become untenable, whether by the hand of Pharaoh or through the failure of ambition as represented by the will to war — other ideas and policies proving bankrupt beneath the hands of lost autocrats and warmongers both — most people resign themselves to suffering or leave for what they hope will prove a healthier situation.
A bully anywhere — schoolyard, saloon, state, tribe, region — drives humanity away, and one may suggest that even God’s love goes with those who leave.
Time and again, and without understanding the sources of their own ruin, time reduces the malignant and all they have done to rags and relics, not to mention the diminishing of their reputation down into the class of assorted “bad examples” in lessons to new generations.
That day always comes.