The Narcissism of Capital

by Mawr Gorshin Infinite Ocean edited by O Society Mar 13, 2019

silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime
Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Introduction

Analysis of the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight, leads to a recognition of ‘political gaslighting.’

In abusive interpersonal relationships, the abuser fabricates, denies, and distorts the truth to disorient the victim. The super-rich, as well as the politicians and the media who work for them, also do this lying and disorienting, but to the public as a whole.

We all know how emotional abuse can happen in families, school, the workplace, and online: psychological abuse on the ‘micro’ level. Now, let’s discuss it on the ‘macro’ level, how it exists on the geopolitical level, for this is, no doubt, a far greater problem.

Many parallels are seen in the comparison of narcissistic abuse and class conflict. Donald Trump is as obvious a narcissist as he is a capitalist is the tip of the iceberg. Contrary to the cries of pussy-hat wearing Russiagaters, it makes perfect sense, in a diabolical way: he is the US president, for he embodies all that is crass and self-absorbed in a country laden with the alienation and contradictions inherent in capitalism.

To see the parallels between narcissism and capitalism, we must look beneath the surface. The problem isn’t a simple matter of whether the ‘pussy grabber’ is president or “I’m with her,” nor is it a matter of the GOP or the Democrats being in control of the White House, for there’s a big club running things in the shadows, regardless of the red and blue mixed in with the darkness.

The point is Trump isn’t the only narcissist among the ruling class. It’s simple to observe. They’re basically all narcissists, sociopaths, and/or psychopaths, in varying degrees of severity and flavors of malignancy.

If you’re pro-capitalist, yet also a victim of narcissistic abuse, it may stick in your gut to equate narcissists with people of an economic system you support. Still, consider your position: one of the striking forms of narcissistic abuse is to control a victim’s finances.  Such economic control is, of course, the essence of capitalism, a minimizing of workers’ wages to maximize profit for the shareholders.

If capitalism isn’t about the rich controlling who gets all the money, then what is capitalism?

corrupt

People with Cluster B personality disorders naturally gravitate to high positions of political and financial power. Why?  Because it takes an aggravated level of ruthlessness to want power badly enough to beat out the competition by any means necessary. This ruthlessness cancels out the legitimacy of any and all moral scruples, which might give the rest of us pause when contemplating doing something crooked to rise up the echelons of power.

Bear in mind, not every single politician or rich person out there has full-blown NPD. That said, on average, members of the bourgeoisie class demonstrate tendencies in the narcissistic direction to a considerably greater degree than members of the proletariat class, for success in the capitalist mode of production just brings the ego out in people.

Let’s now go through those parallels. According to the DSM-5, these are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD–one has to have at least five of these symptoms to be diagnosed with it):

  1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people
  2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
  3. Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions
  4. Needing continual admiration from others
  5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
  6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
  7. Unwilling to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people
  8. Intensely envious of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them
  9. Pompous and arrogant demeanour

Now, how well does the average bourgeois conform to these nine NPD traits? Let’s examine them one by one, shall we?

1. Grandiosity/superiority

Narcissists have an unjustified belief in their superiority over others; capitalists generally believe they’re above the proletariat, too. They claim that ‘gumption and hard workput them at the top where they ‘belong’, rather than acknowledging that the advantages of being born as members of the bourgeoisie put them there.

Trump’s grandfather, for example, made the family fortune, upon which the Donald and his father were able to build. The Donald once spoke of his father having lent him  a million dollars, “a small loan,” to begin his ascent in the business world.

Boo-hoo, Donny: watch my rubbing fingers play a plaintive violin solo, just for you. Have another $413,000,000 tax free from Daddy.

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On top of this, all too often, is a belief in racial superiority.  Hitler was inspired by the imperialist conquests of the US.   Churchill was every bit a racist, in his own way, as Hitler. Accordingly, the West would have been content to let the Nazis invade and colonize the Soviet Union. Only when Hitler’s ambitions threatened Western capitalist interests (i.e., Poland) did they finally began trying to stop him.

What if Donald Trump is what America is all about?

Fascism is capitalism on steroids, so to speak; Nazis believe in a strong, centralized state, coupled with collectivism, within the context of class collaboration, and protecting the nation against foreigners, not the communist goal of classlessness.

2. Association with superiority

Narcissists like to associate with ‘superior’ people; so do capitalists, hence the ruling class, which rarely allows anyone else into their ranks. This is why it’s so hard in the US to rise out of the working class and reach the middle class, or to rise from the middle to the upper classes; narcissistic capitalists cannot be superior if anyone can join them. This exclusivity, of course, is especially true of fascists, who can’t abide foreigners, Jews, and these days, Muslims or Latin Americans.

3. No Empathy

Narcissists show no empathy; neither do capitalists. Contrary to all that nonsense about ‘free market’ capitalism and free trade ‘lifting people out of poverty’ (which, at best, it does at a snail’s pace; compare that speed to the progress made in, say, the USSR, China, and Cuba…especially impressive when seen in light of having endured such obstacles as war and economic embargoes), capitalism only generates obscene wealth inequality, and imperialism robs the Third World of its resources, thus turning those countries into poor ones. Dwellers in rural areas have historically been forced by capitalists into the cities (where the cost of living is generally much higher) to become wage labourers just to survive, and their salaries only barely help them survive. Few pity them.

Added to this is the destructiveness of imperialist war. Little discussion is made in the corporate media about the seven countries bombed by the Obama administration in 2016, or the war in Yemen, in which the US and UK have been selling billions worth in weapons to Saudi Arabia to kill the already poor Yemenis, as well as deprive them of food and desperately-needed medical assistance. Far too few pity them.

The Libyan and Syrian refugees from the Western-backed wars in their besieged countries, rather than pitied, are often feared by Americans and Europeans as ‘Muslim extremists’; while the White Helmets – a Western-backed (i.e., founded by a former UK military officer) group of movie-making propagandists aiding in the US regime-change agenda and with genuine links to terrorist groups (don’t buy Snopes’ ‘debunking’ of this charge, as this ‘fact-checking website’ is clearly in line with MSM anti-Assad, anti-Russia propaganda) – are being welcomed into Canada and some European countries! Why are terrorist abettors being pitied?

More examples of a lack of empathy from people at the top of the capitalist class food chain? Remember what Madeleine Albright said about killing 500,000 Iraqi children?

men holding rifle while walking through smoke grenade
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

4. Exploitation

The kind of media manipulation we see coming from groups like the White Helmets, and on American media controlled mostly by six corporations (thanks to Bill Clinton’s Telecommunications Act of 1996), brings us to the next parallel with narcissism: exploitative treatment of the vulnerable via political gaslighting.

American fear after 9/11 made it easy to manufacture consent for the endless wars in the Middle East. It’s so bad now, George W. Bush is forgiven… merely because he isn’t Trump! Similarly, Obama was given one of the least deserved Nobel Peace Prizes ever… for not being Bush!

Similar emotional exploiting in the media went on over the years with the smear campaigns against Milošević and the Balkanizing of the former Yugoslavia, the demonizing of Gaddafi and the destruction of Libya, and the continuing threats against the Kims in North Korea, a country also bombed to hell in 1950-53 and therefore, justifiably determined – with their own nukes – never to let it happen again. Everybody knows Saddam was made into a scapegoat (once he was no longer useful to US interests), but how many Americans see the hypocrisy in criticizing Cuba’s human rights record while ignoring the goings-on in Guantanamo Bay?

This scapegoating and smear campaigning is not limited to the post-Soviet era. The US government and its flying monkeys, the CIA, manipulated the media throughout the Cold War years. The enabling Western media they controlled smeared the USSR, the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China, and Vietnam as ‘cruel, totalitarian dictatorships,’ meanwhile ignoring communist efforts to lift millions of people out of poverty, educate them, and give them housing, full employment, and health care–a truly bizarre way to oppress people. Meanwhile, ever since the catastrophic dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Western 1%  strips us of our rights, one by one. As we can see, when it comes to tyranny, capitalists are as guilty of projection as narcissists are.

projecting.jpg

5. Fantasies of Power and Success

Now let’s consider the fantasies of power and success narcissists and capitalists share. To cite just two contemporary examples, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos amassed obscene amounts of wealth (while the latter brutally exploits his underpaid workers), and how do they plan to spend it?

Space exploration! Colonizing Mars! Their wealth could feed the global poor, but they’re more interested in planets other than this one. This developing of space-age technology, instead of helping people, is clearly a masturbatory extension of their already inflated egos.

little boy carrying can
Photo by Dazzle Jam on Pexels.com

6. Envy

Capitalists certainly envy others, as narcissists do, for they envy the greater wealth and success of those higher up the echelons of the bourgeoisie. Recall how well this envy is dramatized in the name card scene in the film adaptation of American Psycho. Capitalism, like narcissism, is a vicious competition for face. Narcissists also like to project their envy onto others, imagining these others envy them. Capitalists also do this, imagining socialism is essentially a politics of envy.

We socialists ‘envy’ the rich, apparently, so we want to ‘steal’ from them (actually, they steal from us when they overwork and underpay us–recall how Bezos treats his employees) and kill them. They think communists hunger for power, when really we just hope to gain the power to end hunger, as Michael Parenti once said. We want to create a truly free society, not one that gives narcissist capitalists the ‘freedom’ (i.e., licence) to exploit the poor.

7. Craving Admiration

Narcissists crave continual admiration (in the form of narcissistic supply); so do capitalists. Why else would they so covet ever greater wealth? Consider how the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers revealed all the hoarded wealth in offshore bank accounts, free of taxation. Many members of the bourgeoisie have so much wealth, they don’t know what to do with it. Why hoard so much, except to pat themselves on the back and flash what they don’t hoard among their peers, to impress them? Yachts, jewels, private jets, mansions, chauffeurs: what other reason is there to buy such luxuries?

8. Entitlement

Narcissists have a sense of entitlement, and expect obedience from others; so do capitalists. Why else would they be so opposed to worker self-management, nations’ right to self-determination, social programs, public education, and universal healthcare? They feel entitled to enjoying privileges over the poor and conquered nations, eschewing any sense of obligation to spend an iota of their wealth to help others. They feel entitled to a government that serves and obeys them, not the people.

On a personal level, Hillary Clinton suffered intense narcissistic injury after being denied her coronation in November 2016. She expected the entire DNC to be her flying monkeys and back her, including Bernie Sanders, after she bankrolled them. Now, to save face, she pretends (without any proof) the Russians colluded with Trump to help him win, instead of taking responsibility for running a corrupt, losing campaign.

what-happened

9. Pomposity and Arrogance

Pomposity and arrogance are as obvious in capitalists as they are in narcissists: Trump’s egotism just scratches the surface. Look elsewhere, in the arrogance of the American military-industrial complex, presuming the US to be the ‘policeman of the world‘, along with the notion of ‘American exceptionalism.‘ Then there is the Project for the New American Century. What makes the neocon US power elite believe they have the right to ‘own’ the entire 21st century… along with the rest of the world?

americanpsycho-still2

Capitalist pomposity isn’t limited to the US, of course. Look at England. Try reading a list of Churchill’s racist remarks without retching. After centuries of British imperialism, with their needless figurehead of a monarchy, it’s easy to see where the stereotype of the pompous Brit comes from. Then there’s the obvious racial arrogance of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan.

Who are the Villains, and Who are the Victims?

When we properly understand communism, having seen past all the CIA propaganda against it (the same CIA [with whom Bezos/WaPo has ties, BTW], recall, that’s propagandized and plotted against Iraq, Libya, Syria, Russia, and Iran), we know that leftists, desiring equality and liberation for everyone, are the opposite of narcissistic capitalists and fascists. Like the scapegoats of narcissistic abuse, socialist governments around the world have always been demonized and persecuted by the US and NATO.

While it is true socialist governments made bad mistakes over the years, what must be emphasized is the validity of socialism shouldn’t be dependent on its perfection. The same goes for victims of a narcissist: their flaws don’t make it open season for a narcissist to victimize them.

Now a contemporary example of a capitalist smear campaign against a socialist government, which should give you a hint as to the real origins of the bad reputation communism has (e.g., the wildly exaggerated communist death count).

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Nicolás Maduro‘s government is being economically sabotaged by the Western-backed Venezuelan opposition in an attempt to replace it with a right-wing regime. Oil prices have been manipulated to hurt the economy; the US is funding their flying monkeys in the right-wing opposition, which is resorting to violence against the majority supporters of the Maduro government; and the enablers in the Western media deliberately misrepresent the food and economic crisis of the country by blaming all the economic problems on a socialist (actually, social democratic) government that ‘doesn’t work.

The same sabotage, scapegoating, threats, and smear campaigning have been used against Cuba, North Korea, and China, and was done against the USSR, the Eastern Bloc, and Vietnam. The capitalist narcissists want us to believe only people in America are free, only capitalism works, and there are no alternatives.

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When a proper examination of how life was and is in the leftist countries will show not only that an alternative is possible, but that the capitalists feel threatened by that possibility.

The narcissistic capitalists engage in triangulation by making sure the Western public is exposed only to their version of what socialism is like (in such spurious publications as The Black Book of Communism, Mao: the Unknown Story, and those by Robert Conquest).

man person suit united states of america
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The superficial charm (another narcissist trait) of smiling Obama and Bill Clinton tricks us into thinking that ‘free market’ capitalism can have a loving, liberal face, when the DNC version of it isn’t substantively different from the GOP version. The same goes for charming Tony Blair, as against Theresa May or Margaret Thatcher.

Obama and Trump idealized the common people in the US by promising ‘change’ and ‘draining the swamp’, then devalued and discarded them when they continued bailing out Wall Street and the banks, and not only continuing the wars, but intensifying them. The capitalist’s victims, like those of the narcissist, are so broken inside that they’ve developed a volatility and belligerence, breeding infighting instead of the needed solidarity.

Conclusion

We need to establish boundaries against these capitalistic narcissists. This means removing their influence from our lives. This means revolution, establishing workers’ states that will not only reclaim the land and resources stolen by the bourgeoisie so we can provide for the people, but also to protect us when the narcissistic capitalists try to ‘hoover‘ us back under their influence with counter-revolutionary propaganda, sabotage of the progress we try to make without them, and thwart attempts to invade us with military coups.

One of the aims of narcissistic abuse is to control the victim’s finances. Capitalism is about the rich controlling who owns and uses the money, at the expense of the poor. Let’s take control back, and reclaim our lives.

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