Paralytic

The art to making it big as a blog is to tell people that something screwed them. However, it’s best not to pick actual causes, but intermediate ones. Beating a real cause takes a lot of power. Getting a bunch of people mad at an intermediate, or mad enough to buy your book, is much more achievable.

If those of us who bring you this blog had any financial sense, we would not be identifying actual problems like crowdism or demographic decline, but looking at intermediates that make good punching bags. Obama. Christians. Corporations. Satan.

Finding a good punching bag makes you feel good. Instead of seeing the broad problem of re-organizing society, you can single out a little tiny piece and rage against it, then consider the job done and go home. It’s easier and more emotionally satisfying to find something to blame.

The only glitch is that by doing so, you miss out on the actual culprit. Such is the case with the following article, in which some people (who should know better) blame the problems of the “lost generation” or millennials on the economy:

But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become risk-averse and sedentary…

Back in the early 1980s, 80 percent of 18-year-olds proudly strutted out of the D.M.V. with newly minted licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65 percent. – “The Go-Nowhere Generation,” by Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz, The New York Times

Sometime in the past 30 years. What has happened since 1982?

A lot, but the biggest change has been that the social programs of the 1960s have come into full fruition. The Reagan 1980s after all were sort of a rearguard action against the encroaching liberal reforms that from 1964 onward — when the first baby boomers hit 18 — had been rising in power.

The “lost generation” are the people who inherited the true weight of liberal reforms. Sexual liberation means divorce and faithless relationships. Social welfare means a glacial economy and parasitic government. All forms of “equality” mean constant internal class warfare. Civil rights means open immigration and increasing internal division.

Millennials are not the first to face this decline. Before them, the Generation Xers were known as “slackers” and “dropouts” for their own tendency to retreat into the basement and shut the door on a world gone mad.

Why did they think the world had gone mad? Each individual liberal reform had bad results, but the effect of liberal reforms as a whole is that you no longer have a society with purpose. You have a giant shopping mall where nothing has any meaning, except purchasing things and individual drama

Each day, people go to work for the purpose of sustaining themselves. They have families and hobbies. But there is a sense of going through the motions and being in shock, which is why people behave like such zombies, craving power, wealth and prestige without knowing why.

And yet they are afraid to rock the boat. They are grateful for what they have, even as they are miserable. They insist they are not discontented. They pick one team to cheer for, find a reason to feel superior to others, and keep going through the motions.

The term “Stockholm Syndrome” was coined in the early 70′s to describe the puzzling reactions of four bank employees to their captor. On August 23, 1973, three women and one man were taken hostage in one of the largest banks in Stockholm. They were held for six days by two ex-convicts who threatened their lives but also showed them kindness. To the world’s surprise, all of the hostages strongly resisted the government’s efforts to rescue them and were quite eager to defend their captors. Indeed, several months after the hostages were saved by the police, they still had warm feelings for the men who threatened their lives. Two of the women eventually got engaged to the captors.

The Stockholm incident compelled journalists and social scientists to research whether the emotional bonding between captors and captives was a “freak” incident or a common occurrence in oppressive situations. They discovered that it’s such a common phenomenon that it deserves a name. Thus the label “Stockholm Syndrome” was born. It has happened to concentration camp prisoners, cult members, civilians in Chinese Communist prisons, pimp-procured prostitutes, incest victims, physically and/or emotionally abused children, battered women, prisoners of war, victims of hijackings, and of course, hostages. Virtually anyone can get Stockholm Syndrome it the following conditions are met:

  • Perceived threat to survival and the belief that one’s captor is willing to act on that threat
  • The captive’s perception of small kindnesses from the captor within a context of terror
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor
  • Perceived inability to escape.

Stockholm Syndrome is a survival mechanism. The men and women who get it are not lunatics. They are fighting for their lives. – “Societal Stockholm Syndrome,” by Kathleen Trigiani

Liberal society enacts those characteristics upon us:

  • Threat to survival: constant crime, instability, job loss, fears for health and reproductive success in the media, dubious international politics and constant wars.
  • Small kindnesses: society throws us a few bones in the form of pity and handouts.
  • Isolation: any perspectives other than that of a technocratic liberal democracy are considered insane, racist, hateful, voodoo, etc.
  • No escape: let me know if you can think of one. If you run away to the woods, it’s just a matter of time before someone converts those woods into a McDonald’s.

If you find yourself wondering why every year, things seem worse and people seem even more paralyzed to act against them, consider this: people are afraid things will get worse, so they’re clinging to society in order to appease it. Like abused children, they conform — and then beg.

What makes this society so powerful is its duality. On one hand, it is permissive and so everything is “OK;” on the other hand, this permissiveness causes such vast social instability that we are each islands, trying to duck crime, abuse, isolation, poverty and other forms of social chaos.

The result is shell-shocked people who through the motions in order to avoid things getting worse. They are paralyzed by fear of what could happen, based on the fact that bad things happen all the time and nothing is done. They are psychologically scarred and coping as best they can.

Symptoms of PTSD fall into three main categories:

  1. “Reliving” the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
    • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
    • Repeated upsetting memories of the event
    • Repeated nightmares of the event
    • Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event
  2. Avoidance
    • Emotional “numbing,” or feeling as though you don’t care about anything
    • Feeling detached
    • Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
    • Having a lack of interest in normal activities
    • Showing less of your moods
    • Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
    • Feeling like you have no future
  3. Arousal
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Startling easily
    • Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
    • Feeling more aware (hypervigilance)
    • Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
    • Having trouble falling or staying asleep

- Post-traumatic stress disorder, PubMed Health (NIH)

These symptoms are not shocking for anyone who has observed modern people closely. They are not overt, but a society based on distraction and evasion of hard truths fits the profile of an escapist trauma victim. They most closely describe the character of our society at large.

When we look at these together with the Stockholm Syndrome, we can see how a person with PTSD would be the perfect candidate for Stockholm Syndrome. Traumatized once, and shown a small kindness, they will act to achieve more of that kindness. They will obey authority even as it pushes them toward horrible deeds.

Milgram recruited subjects for his experiments from various walks in life. Respondents were told the experiment would study the effects of punishment on learning ability…”Teachers” were asked to administer increasingly severe electric shocks to the “learner” when questions were answered incorrectly.

Shock levels were labeled from 15 to 450 volts…In response to the supposed jolts, the “learner” (actor) would begin to grunt at 75 volts; complain at 120 volts; ask to be released at 150 volts; plead with increasing vigor, next; and let out agonized screams at 285 volts. Eventually, in desperation, the learner was to yell loudly and complain of heart pain…Finally, at 330 volts the actor would be totally silent…

Milgram was shocked to find those who questioned authority were in the minority. Sixty-five percent (65%) of the teachers were willing to progress to the maximum voltage level. – “Milgram’s Experiment on Obedience to Authority,” by Gregorio Billikopf Encina, University of California

Like its partner experiment, the “Stanford Prison Experiment,” the Milgram experiment has been presented to us as a way of explaining how ordinary people give in to evil authority. If we read it more cynically, we could say it shows how ordinary people exhibit Stockholm Syndrome-esque responses to contemporary authority.

Paralysis occurs in our society because when it began falling apart, a series of tragedies occurred. The French Revolution was the first, but after that a series of wars, genocides, etc. happened. We try to play nice with our captors by reasoning that these are results of bad people or ideas among us. The more likely truth is that our society is diseased, self-destructive, a Late Roman period of collapse. It is the source of these problems.

We will remain paralyzed as long as we do what is popular and cast around for some discrete, separate entity to blame. As long as we have Satan, Hitler, Stalin or Kony to blame, we can pretend that our society is not rotting from within. The paralysis wins and we stagger onward, sleepwalking to doom.

19 Comments

  1. Cameron says:

    I respect you Stevens. I’m sorry I went off at you a couple of times when i was drunk.

  2. Esotericist says:

    I’m skeptical of the claims in this article because it goes against the normal interpretation of each of these disorders and experiments. Milgram’s experiment showed that rich college kids could become abusive if someone else told them it was “OK,” which is sort of an anticipatory Nuremburg Defense. Stockholm Syndrome showed that abusers who also show kindness get obedience from their captives. I might be able to see that one in the context you frame it as. However, claiming PTSD and a connection to the Lost Generation III is probably out of bounds. The Lost Generation (III) grew up on the educational practices of hippies and Baby Boomers and many of their parents were early Generation X, which means they got slacker parented, latchkey kid, helicopter parents and too much TV and PC propaganda. That’s what wrecked them, I think.

    1. A. Realist says:

      The Baby Boomers were (are?) execrable parents because they are the self-pity generation. After the war when we were flush with cash here in the USA and UK, we finally saw what a society based on commerce was like.

      A very subtle hell.

      As a result, the Boomers hated it, and hated themselves for eventually joining it, and they passed that hatred down to their children. A paranoid fear of death through secularism. A loathing for money and yet demands for more of it. An ideology of helping the downtrodden yet a practice of staying as far as possible away from them.

      It’s no wonder Generation X went down to the basement and won’t be up until after dinner, to see if there are any leftovers. That’s about all that’s left. Half-chewed crusts, while a hungry horde of third world people, criminals, the insane and the corrupt wait outside the door.

  3. Ted Swanson says:

    Sounds about right to me. Sexual liberation, feminism, social welfare, “equality,” Civil rights, liberal reforms in general: they are not progress, they are basically experiments. They sound good on paper and that’s it. They have not stood the test of time. If it ain’t broke, fix it ’till it is!

    1. Sun says:

      The only way to withstand the test of time is to test something so that Time may judge rightly.

      Time endures.

      1. crow says:

        Time endures? What does that mean?
        It doesn’t even endure one second.
        Memory does. History does. When leftists don’t re-write it every other day. But time?
        Time, I am convinced, doesn’t even exist, except as a comfortable illusion, although entropy certainly does.
        In, out, in, out, the cosmos breathes.
        Creation, entropy.
        Time is that thing that takes the living out of life.
        A measurement of paydays, and other results.
        How would it be if results were not sought-after?
        No desire for an outcome?
        How would time fare, then?

    2. A. Realist says:

      They sound good on paper if you consider only the immediate effects. If you think three moves ahead, like in chess, they turn out to be total disasters even on paper.

      However the social pressure of making people happy will cause even a sober-minded man to forget the long-term goals, and to settle instead for what works in the short term. Like smacking your kids or giving them handy, it “works” right away and “everyone” is pleased, but over time it makes horrible brats out of your children.

  4. crow says:

    You can build a system of government, but you can’t build a society.
    Societies evolve, over time. They become, they are not made.
    Socialism seems completely unaware of this.
    I equate conservatives to responsible policemen, while liberals are mad scientists. Neither one is ideal, but the former is, at least, responsible.

    Really, the only way of dealing with liberals is to stop taking them seriously, whenever possible. They can’t stop what they are doing, but you can stop helping them do it.

    1. A. Realist says:

      I won’t even give the liberals mad scientist status. A mind scientist has a goal. A liberal is just a criminal that has learned to steal with a fountain pen or a speech instead of a gun. They are just selfish. We conservatives all seem to want to deny that fact but it’s obvious and should be mentioned.

  5. Nicholas Marville says:

    It is true. People like to rage against a single item, for instance immigration, and then go back into daily routine because it’s secure and comfortable. Even if daily routine is part of the problem; our environments that come with protocols on how to interact with them, thus dumbing us down into critters that require some outside form of bureaucracy to manage us. The generation that is being bred by this society is a group of humans who are vacuous, apathic, and unable to make a stand for any ideal. We forget our virtues and ideals, we forget poetry and human excellence, and slowly our civilization gives ground to China, Islam, etc.

    “■No escape: let me know if you can think of one. If you run away to the woods, it’s just a matter of time before someone converts those woods into a McDonald’s.”

    Hilarious!

    1. Perhaps an absurd example, but it does seem to me that modern society is a type of terrorist that holds us hostage.

      One way it does this is with patches of forest. If you are foolish enough to fall in love with one, you will live in fear of the day the bulldozer shows up, knowing that inevitably it will, and always for something extraneous.

      We don’t need more restaurants; we need good ones. We don’t need more suburbs; we need good people.

      Our growth is a cancer that sacrifices first what we (in our saner states) would love best.

      1. crow says:

        Indeed.
        My five acre forest, it was said, by the realtors, backed onto ‘Crown Land’, which implied it would stay forest. When all the time it was owned by someone planning to sub-divide and develop it. While on either side there is a junkyard and a maniac, who both trash the area and create, either directly, or indirectly, massive amounts of noise and aggro. While a quarter mile away, the Gun Club decides it must become a ‘growth’ enterprise, attracting ever more shotgunners…
        With all the trees cut down around my woods, my own trees now blow down in storms. Until, finally, I imagine there will be little left.
        I am compelled to invest huge amounts of time and money into tree-planting, against visual ugliness, noise-fencing against the racket, and an overpopulation of fleeing wildlife taking refuge in what remains.
        Plus, of course, enforced non-reaction to all these things, in order to stay sane.
        I say ‘stay sane’, because I presume I am still sane.
        Whether or not this is actually the case, is difficult to accurately determine.
        One must enjoy what one can, while one can, and stay adaptable to the inevitable march of ‘change’.

        1. A. Realist says:

          You should sue those realtors. Liars.

      2. A. Realist says:

        Pay to be born, pay to die. Pay for your rent, pay for your health. Everything costs more because it’s regulated, and it’s socialized to subsidize the herd. At some point, it all sucks, so you have to pay for another level of service. All in the name of noble objectives like equality, civil rights, gender parity, and so on. The point is that by insisting we pay for everyone, we raise the cost so much that society collapses. We also create the terrorism you’re talking about which is that you either get into the system, get vested and start living like a junkie off those regular paychecks, or you are no one and end up in a homeless shelter…

    2. A. Realist says:

      It reminds me of this.

      http://seeifixedit.com/

      Short term gain, long term pain.

    3. ferret says:

      “The generation that is being bred by this society is a group of humans who are vacuous, apathic, and unable to make a stand for any ideal.”

      There are no ideals in stock. And there is no demand.

  6. ferret says:

    “No escape: let me know if you can think of one. If you run away to the woods, it’s just a matter of time before someone converts those woods into a McDonald’s.”

    “…it does seem to me that modern society is a type of terrorist that holds us hostage.”

    I have exactly same feelings.

    The question is: who did it?

    Are you sure we have this situation only since liberals got the power, not earlier? Say, before 1789 one could pick a slot of fertile soil, work on it, live from it, and sell the surplus to buy a theatre tickets.

    Are you sure liberals actually have power? I heard they are still fighting for liberty, equality, etc.

    Who has power, the Occupy Something Movement, Obama, or what?

    1. Nicholas Marville says:

      This is what holds the power:

      http://www.amerika.org/politics/a-lesson-in-statecraft/

      It’s not an ideology or set of beliefs that matter. Our economic-political state of society is a self-perpetuating machine, a self-rolling wheel that has no outside objectives (such as justice or righteousness) which can be formulated in non-subjective terms. Therefore, this machine can not be said to serve a purpose, to bring about an ideal, while it is geared towards self-preservation.

      1. ferret says:

        I like this article. It explains how the state gets power, or, better, belief of having power. You have mentioned the Financial capital, but not as a part of the capital, and in the article this “self-rolling stone” has no ideology under its movement.

        Ideology may be considered wider than Ideologies of parties.
        If we look at ideology as “a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society” (wiki, Ideology), then we can clearly see how the ruling class makes people believing there is a natural order, a self-rollong wheel. It is a part of capitalist ideology. And it was so before capitalism.

        In order to keep power, the ruling class would never disclose their ideology. Instead, there will be plenty of democracy, liberty, equality, etc., mentioned – stuff that makes no danger to capitalism. The notion of capital is ‘forgotten’ also for the same reason.

        Asserting that the state has power is similar to asserting a police officer is ruling our society. Somebody is benefiting from the belief we are all victims of this ‘self-rolling’ society, nobody is responsible, except, maybe, the state.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideology
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_(economics)

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