I don’t need to tell you that there’s something horribly perverse about the public dialogue surrounding gun tragedies in this country. It starts with “never again” and it ends with inaction and more gun tragedies. This piece by Benjamin Kunkel (via) seems apropos:
If you wished to characterize the Democrats and the Republicans in terms of true exaggerations, you might say that the Republicans have become the Party of Psychosis while the Democrats have become the Party of Neurosis. The Republicans are psychotic because they have lost contact with reality, and orient their behavior not toward realities but toward fantasies. The Democrats are neurotic because they are aim-inhibited, as an old-fashioned shrink might say: their anxieties, hang-ups, and insecurities mean that they can’t attain satisfaction, since in a basic way they won’t even allow themselves to know what they want.
Many features of the Republican psychosis are well known: Global warming isn’t caused by humans; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are responsible for the financial crisis; the President, who may be a foreign-born anticolonialist undermining America at the bidding of his father’s ghost, has eliminated the work requirement for welfare; and so on. There’s never much point in talking to psychotics, though we can speculate about the particular delusions they exhibit. Most of us probably subscribe to an interpretation of the Grand Old Psychosis (GOP) that goes something like this: The trauma of American decline as experienced by white people, older people, and men—and above all older white men—has caused a psychic break producing a classic paranoid delusion, in which that segment of the population which through its race, culture, and creed embodies the American virtues responsible for the country’s former greatness is being attacked by a composite monster (dark-skinned, sexually deviant, non-Christian, and anticapitalist) bent on stigmatizing family as patriarchy, religion as ignorance, and free enterprise as predation. Here as in many cases of persecution delusion we might suspect the displacement onto others of a terrible guilt, in this instance surrounding war, racism, climate destruction, and so on. This interpretation of Republican loss of contact with reality is cartoonish and speculative but, in my considered opinion as a democratic ecosocialist and citizen–clinician, probably true as far as it goes.