PART 7: Marvelization of Man
Welcome to TOTALITARIA! A wonderful world based on the highest ideals, most moral codes ever conceived by man!
Oooops! Do you really want to live in a Totalitarian society where your neighbors and creepy people spy on you and report you to the Morality Police overseen by the Minister of Interior, a guy responsible for the interior thoughts inside your mind?!
This blog explores Joost Meerlo’s chapter on the Totalitarian Mindset, which is a mindset that serves as a fundamental building block of totalitarian societies. This mindset does not just infect Totalitarian Rulers. It infects lots of people in a society who become susceptible to it for a variety of reasons
Totalitarianism is a form of government and a political system that prohibits all opposition parties, outlaws individual and group opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high if not complete degree of control and regulation over public and private life. -- Totalitarianism -- Wikipedia
In fact, there are recognizable personality traits for forming and holding a Totalitarian Mindset.
These traits include conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness", destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sex. -- The Authoritarian Personality -- Wikipedia
There is even such a thing as a totalitarian democracy, which is a state is said to maximize its control over the lives of its citizens by using the dual rationale of general will (i.e., “public good”) and majority rule.
Recap & Current Events
Previous blogs of this series explore why we need heroes, super heroes, and strong stories that activate and workout the body parts of our mind: Archetypes. Like the rest of the world, I am shocked and horrified by Hamas October 7 attack and anyone celebrating this attack. What were they thinking is beyond what a normal person can conceive. Only people who have broken their minds and eviscerated their hearts are capable of cutting the fingers off a little boy before executing him and cutting heads off of babies. Only people who have turned themselves into monsters spend 16 years and billions of dollars building underground tunnels while not dropping a dime to build a bomb shelter for the 2.2 million people of Gaza and then build their underground bunker headquarters underneath refugee facilities and hospitals.
The killing of any innocent person–baby, child, woman, or man–is wrong… be it by knifes and guns or bombs… and yet, here we the people of the world, stand again looking into the jaws of violence, which breeds violence, which breeds violence and revenge and more violence. The same killing is happening in Ukraine implemented by another crazy totalitarian monster who is cozying up to this favorite totalitarian dictators in Iran, North Korea, China, and now Hamas, Hezbollah, and any and all extremists, violent visionaries who want to rule the world.
I have been devastated by images of death and destruction in Israel and Gaza, but one picture caught my attention in a curious way. This is the picture of the captured soldier recused by the IDF from Gaza.
I cannot fix or change this torn and tattered world. I can only reflect and notice and try to understand what makes a person lean into a Totalitarian Mindset and Life that never ends up serving the good of all. It only ever seems to serve a few living like rats in tunnels or cockroachs in golden palaces.
So let’s dive into Joost Meerlo who was a Jewish psychiatrist who survive the Nazi holocaust and thought a lot about what makes such men do such monstrous things.
CHAPTER SIX: TOTALITARIA AND ITS DICTATORSHIP
— The Rape of the Mind, Joost Meerlo
There actually exists such a thing as a technique of mass brainwashing. This technique can take root in a country if an inquisitor is strong and shrewd enough. He can make most of us his victims, albeit temporarily.
What in the structure of society has made man so vulnerable to these mass manipulations of the mind? This is a problem with tremendous implications, just as brainwashing is. In recent years we have grown more and more aware of human interdependence with all its difficulties and complications.
I am aware of the fact that investigation of the subject of mental coercion and thought control becomes less pleasant as time goes on. This is so because it may become more of a threat to us here and now, and our concern for China and Korea must yield to the more immediate needs at our own door. Can totalitarian tendencies take over here, and what social symptoms may lead to such phenomena? Stern reality confronts us with the universal mental battle between thought control (and its corollaries) and our standards of decency, personal strength, personal ideas, and a personal conscience with autonomy and dignity.
Future social scientists will be better able to describe the causes of the advent of totalitarian thinking and acting in man. We know that after wars and revolutions this mental deterioration more easily finds an opportunity to develop, helped by special psychopathic personalities who flourish on man’s misery and confusion. It is also true that the next generation spontaneously begins to correct the misdeeds of the previous one because the ruthless system has become too threatening to them.
My task, however, is to describe some symptoms of the totalitarian process (which implies deterioration of thinking and acting) as I have observed them in our own epoch, keeping in mind that the system is one of the most violent distortions of man’s consistent mental growth. No brainwashing is possible without totalitarian thinking. The tragic facts of political experiences in our age make it all too clear that applied psychological technique can brainwash entire nations and reduce their citizens to a kind of mindless robotism which becomes for them a normal way of living. Perhaps we can best understand how this frightening thing comes about by examining a mythical country, which, for the sake of convenience, we shall call Totalitaria.
Page 73 — The Rape of the Mind, Joost Meerlo
While writing this blog, I heard this on NPR. If you are interested in Totalitarian Societies and Mindset and what can happen to ordinary people just trying to live their lives in such societies, you should listen to this episode that tells how things can go sideways really fast, especially with social media and modern technologies.
In this episode, you meet a man in Iraq and the new app called Snitch, a woman in the US who was giving birth at home and arrested because her baby was a still birth, and what has been happening in Iran for decades with its brutal Morality police. The very same Iran supplying Putin with drones and Hamas with rockets.
Click Here is a five-part special series telling true stories about the people making and breaking our digital world. Hosted by former NPR Investigations correspondent Dina Temple-Raston, Click Here uses deep reporting and investigative journalism to introduce listeners to the people behind today’s cybersecurity and intelligence headlines. You’ll meet not just the hackers, but the people who are chasing them – without all that insider jargon that makes tech shows hard to understand.
What happens when authorities use digital weapons to impose their vision of morality on the people they are supposed to serve? Across the globe, rulers have launched apps, tracked phones, and used personal data in increasingly hostile ways, and it has sparked some very creative responses. -- Listen to this and other episodes of the Click Here podcast at clickhereshow.com or wherever you get your podcasts.
Hoffer seeks to provide non partisan and non bias information from both sides to help people understand the different sides, perspectives, and history of the conflict in the Middle East. It is a big lift and hard to do, and it is hard for people to reach out and seek more information to understand more about the horrors taking place. It is the only way forward for every individual to do this work, to check one’s own biases and blind spots. It is hard work, thinking, but without this hard work… there is only one place the world is going to land… and it’s not a peaceful place.
Following the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, Harvard University junior Shira Hoffernoticed a lot of one-sided and polarizing narratives around the conflict.
In an effort to promote peaceful dialogue across differences, Hoffer launched the Hotline for Israel/Palestine, an educational texting hotline that seeks to provide users with nonpartisan information and resources.
The initiative already has two dozen volunteers, spanning across religions, ethnicities and countries.
Here & Now's Jane Clayson speaks with Hoffer for more details on this peace-forward effort.
This segment aired on November 3, 2023.