Pop psych as a substitute for procedure

Pop psych as a substitute for procedure

January 9 2009

by Henry Park

Recently, I’ve been called a “masochist” by someone mentioned by the “Washington Post” and by another military man in a discussion group. Another blog of persynal enemies called me “narcissitic.”

A conservative blog makes reference to my masturbation habits. Yet others are still confronting me with 20-year-old charges of puritanism, by someone MIM purged over not supporting the lesbian liberation logo, no less. (Sorry I did not get up off the couch that time to look at your naked girlfriend. Will I ever live it
down? Subcultures, sheesh.)

A number of people bought a racist story about “revenge” impossible by its timing and procedure. That is the bottom line with pop psych looking at individual motivations instead of procedures. Individual motivations can be constructed like potato chips. “Revenge,” “puritanism,” “masochism,” “narcissism,”–it’s all lazy pigeon-holing by people who cannot see principle, structure and procedure. They substitute pigeon-holing for direct investigation and make opaque excuses when caught.

It’s not just that the king holds an office and is not just a persyn with a psychology. It’s that there are procedures. In family and profit-driven society, one such procedure is not stealing someone’s diaries; yet somehow I’m having more discussion of virtuocracy than privacy. (For those who do not know, I recently revealed my identity as a writer after 25 years working for the communist cause, because of egotistical people who insisted on having a persynality conflict to the point of spying on me, stealing my diaries etc..)

Stanley Fish characterized the virtuocracy argument this way:
“The Donatists argued that those who had betrayed their faith under pressure and then returned to the fold when the persecutions were over had lost the authority to perform their priestly offices, including the offices of administering the sacraments and making ecclesiastical appointments.”(1)

MIM has argued before against St. Augustine and those more extreme like Donatists in making “hypocrisy” arguments. They are conservative arguments. However, in the above from Stanley Fish I am now stressing “when the persecutions were over” as a matter of procedure. When U.$. torture victims come to U.$. courts where intelligence agencies have ceased their torture, the persecution is not “over” until it has been admitted and compensated.

I’ve had arguments regarding racism on all sorts of topics–the spelling of “Black,” enrollments etc. I distinguish between people who struggle and those who hit-and-run unaccountably. It goes to the core of procedure. A secret operation to free a prisoner or hide someone from torturers is one thing. What we did not know about in Abu Ghraib before photos came out is another thing.

There is also a sense of proportion that I find lacking in people used to thinking in psychological ways. My not getting off the couch is not something to throw into the midst of an argument over a suicide attempt. My advocacy
for monogamy and ending musical chairs for lovers in small circles in that context does not mean I was “puritanical” even in the previous two or 20 years. It’s either true or not true that the Black Panthers had a problem with musical chairs that we can study and avoid. That’s a procedural principle in the interest of the organization, not a question of “puritanism.” Likewise, violations of that principle are not a question of virtue but of people’s understanding procedure. Laying down the procedure creates right and wrong.

We should also distinguish between behavior and words. CNN.com recently blew this question with a discussion of two different kinds of actions. One study involved words and insult to Blacks. The other involved Chinese customers.

Of course, when confronted with a paying customer, there is reward at work. That is not the same thing as confronting a hotel or restaurant owner with a question of people passing by making insults. The fact that business-owners would want to re-assure white customers that Chinese customers are not around is not surprising. So it is an apple-and-oranges comparison.

Here I do not say anything not known to conservative sociologists by the 1950s. Formal organization and procedure is a protection against oppression of the worst kind.

At the moment, we have a large number of progressives and social-fascists confused by fascism. They believe they can fight a battle on an oppressive turf. The fact that diplomacy is secret adds to the difficulties that seem “cannot change” and so the temptation is to go back via tail-wag-the-dog and call persecutions “over” when they are not “over” so as not to tar those involved in secret diplomacy–namely the top authorities. What is hard to understand is why not to leave the Cheneys to do that sort of thing. If one has secretly concluded that MIM is correct about the U.$. majority and justice cannot be done openly, then Cheney has already beckoned.

MIM sees no reason why progressive people would be involved in lynching exchanges for political power. I do understand why Democrats and Republicans do that. People abroad are going to notice what happened to Rev. Wright, Edwards, Richardson, Blagojevich and they are going to realize that things are being spun this way and that way because Amerikans can’t get their procedural thinking down. This sort of post-modernist campaigning is not going to be a basis for diplomacy. With most people agreed that the united $tates has blown its credibility, there is a chance being lost here to go to procedure. In other words, it cannot be left to Obama’s “credibility” or “character” at all. The temptation to do so reflects acceptance that we are oppressive here in the majority that we then passively and gutlessly carry over into handling people abroad.

1. http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/roland-burris-and-st-augustine/
2. “You may be more racist than you think, study says,”


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