I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn't Already
a book by Roger L. Simon
(our site's book review)
In 1979, Christopher Lasch published the epochal The Culture of Narcissism warning of the normalizing of narcissism in our society. Lasch may have understated it. 35 years later, in the Obama era—with its parade of endless, often inexplicable, scandals—we have a full blown epidemic of what has recently been called Moral Narcissism.
Forget Narcissus and his reflection, Moral Narcissism—the almost schizophrenic divide between intentions and results now pervading our culture—is the new method for feeling good about yourself. It no longer matters how anything turns out as long as your intentions were good, that you were “moral.” And, just as importantly, the only determinant of those intentions, the only one who defines that morality, is you. It is a narcissism of ideology, not of a pretty reflection in a mirror.
Forget Narcissus and his reflection, Moral Narcissism—the almost schizophrenic divide between intentions and results now pervading our culture—is the new method for feeling good about yourself
Simon, to describe a societal form of narcissism that he felt had become destructive to our republic, wrote I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn't Already which goes beyond Lasch to lay bare how this moral narcissism is behind all those scandals from Obamacare to the Veteran's Administration to the IRS, Benghazi, Bergdahl, Syria and beyond. Everything the Obama administration did and does was about making them feel good about themselves—the results be damned.
And they have as their allies those supreme moral narcissists in the academy, media and Hollywood, ever willing to ratify those good intentions and ignore those same results. It makes them not just feel good about themselves but also feel superior to those who are not already on board their train of self-conceit that is really self-deceit. Simon's book has hundreds of pages of examples of moral narcissism.
But I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn't Already is not just about the Left. Moral Narcissism affects the right as well, even when they don’t realize it. It is a true epidemic that must be cured in order to save our democratic republic and our futures, says Simon. Democracy? As if! See Democracy—an American Delusion.
"Narcissism has taken over our society to such an extent that we cannot see straight. It has disconnected us, or a great many of us, from reality, and is in the process of undermining what tiny bit of democracy we have left. Every even mildly unconventional thought has a 'trigger warning.' lest someone be offended. Narcissism is making us blind. It is the secret sauce destroying America from within. It is also the handmaiden of perpetual distraction, the misdirection that prevents us ever from solving anything. . . . That form is moral narcissism, a pathology that underlies the whole liberal left ethic today and some of the right as well.
"What exactly is this form of narcissism that is destroying—if it hasn't already destroyed—our families, friendships, workplace atmosphere, and democratic republic? The short form is this: What you believe, or claim to believe or say you believe, not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be, defines you as a person and makes you 'good.' It is how your life will be judged by others and by yourself. . . . In 21st-century America, almost all of us seem to have concluded that 'you are what you say you are.' You are what you proclaim your values to be, irrespective of their consequences. That is moral narcissism. It is a narcissism that emanates from a supposed personal virtue augmented by a supposed intellectual clarity." (Source: Moral Narcissism and the Least-Great Generation: How the pre-boomers ruined everything, Roger L. Simon)
Simon falls on his face when accusing Rachel Carson of moral narcissism
Simon says the green/environmental movement is essentially morally narcissistic, only intermittently beneficial, and often the reverse. He uses Rachel Carson as an early example of moral narcissism. The proclaimed "good" of the banning of DDT that came from her book Silent Spring resulted in many malaria deaths. Unfortunately, he doesn't deal with his own moral narcissism (and reductionism), missing the bigger picture of what happens if we so poison the biosphere that it starts dying off en masse. Even if a few can be saved now by this nasty poison in the short run, if there's no viable planet to live on in the long run, is it worth it? His thinking is flawed. The answer wasn't to use such poisons that poison the earth and its creatures indiscriminately—the answer was to find less "scorched earth" techniques of mosquito control.
Simon puts down the global warming sciences for no logical reason except to be controversial and to keep his agenda consistently rightwing
More flawed thinking occurs when he puts down the global warming sciences because so often the talking heads on TV discussing the matter are neither scientists nor great thinkers—they're just passing on information that 97% of scientists agree with. Al Gore did a wonderful job of spreading this knowledge even though technically he is not a scientist. Simon forgets that human knowledge gets put into books and then people read the books and discuss it, both in classrooms and on talk shows. He says at a "cocktail party you will be told of the imminent dangers of anthropogenic global warning by someone who doesn't know the second law of thermodynamics." He thinks this makes a point.
Caring about the planet and human survival in no way requires advanced knowledge of scientific principles or even recalling a law from high school science class. It only requires a mind and heart that function decently. Snarky comments about such things merely play into the hands of the deniers that are almost exclusively oil or coal company shills, which suggests the question: where does Simon plan to live once the Earth is unlivable? Okay, he won't live that long, but what about his children and grandchildren? Shall we wreck Earth while terraforming Mars, wreck that, then on to Venus? Disposable planets—what a concept. We bet he doesn't recycle!
Al Gore did a wonderful job of spreading global warming sciences knowledge
Simon says that "I stand by my contention that our country has been, consciously or unconsciously, driven back to racism during the Obama years just at the point we were supposed to be free of it." This is an insightful point. One could say that Obama was such a corrupt, hypocritical president that the Right easily saw how he was wrecking the country as well as precipitating ISIS in the Mideast, and they also saw his love for the terrorist supporting group The Muslim Brotherhood, and they felt—some unconsciously, some consciously—that he was sabotaging the country. Some of them generalized that this is how blacks behave when they are given power: they try to act to racistly "get Whitey" as well as wreck the country. This pushed them toward racism even if that is illogical in the extreme.
Obama just brought out the racism on the Right that was lurking right beneath the surface. The white part of the Left were in total denial, of course, since he was their Great Black Hope, but they were (unconsciously) disgusted by Obama's sabotages, so they expressed this by joining Rightwing whites to elect Trump, Mr. White Nationalist. The white Left never really did admit to themselves just how corrupt their Black Champion had been, but enough of them saw the devastation clearly enough so they made sure Hillary (Obama 2.0 in a skirt—the queen of political correctness horse-pucky) lost to Trump.
Obama was a corrupt, hypocritical president that basically hated the U.S. and its people
See How Obama Betrayed America....And No One Is Holding Him Accountable, The Corruption Chronicles: Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, The Left in Power: Clinton to Obama: Black Book of the American Left: Volume VII, and Obama's Enemies List: How Barack Obama Intimidated America and Stole the Election.)
'Black Lives Matter,' a Democrat-championed organization that blames the usually justified consequences faced by black criminals on white racism and supremacy, regardless of the facts
"Now think of 'Black Lives Matter,' a Democrat-championed organization that blames the usually justified consequences faced by black criminals on white racism and supremacy, regardless of the facts. As a result, Ferguson thug Mike Brown shall forever remain innocent in the minds of the most hardheaded liberals, as accepting his culpability would mean admitting that it was not racism that killed him; it was his own decisions.' (Source: Moral Narcissism: Why Liberals Say One Thing But Do Another, V. Saxena, The Federalist Papers)
Black Lives Matter
"Marx was the greatest of all moral narcissists, off in the library of the British Museum writing his prescriptions for humanity that led to death in very large numbers," says Simon. But it doesn't require an elegant sounding concept like moral narcissism to get what was wrong with Marx's actions. He told people that utopia was attainable via social engineering, engineered by central planning. There are bookloads of problems with this idea. Leaders of such things are bound to exploit the situation for their own ends just because of the types of people that step up to create this miracle, volunteering to lead from class struggle to utopia and egalitarianism. Any student of human nature would predict that it would be tyrants, authoritarians, and narcissistic demagogues that would be first in line.
But, forgetting the idiocy of the 20th century for a minute, social engineering at the level of government planning by bureaucrats in a democracy will have similarly corrupt results. When great leaders like FDR manage such things, the results are fair, and minimally corrupt or corrupting. But in the hands of LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bill Clinton, Dubya, or Obozo, they became poster children for moral narcissism. Like Simon says, their intentions are morally just so their results are not relevant—in the extremely warped thinking of the leaders of salvation via social engineering as well as the bureaucrats that administer the well-meaning programs.
Do you hate Dubya Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq? Blame his Moral Narcissism. However, Simon seemed to change his mind at the end of the book where he asserts that the U.S. is really good at nation building, so apparently the invasion gets an 11th hour pass. This we found to be shocking—how can Simon be so blind? The U.S. is horrible at nation building. It is good only at nation destroying—ask the Iraqis or the Libyans! Our neocons lied to us, got our leaderships behind them, went to the Mideast and attacked everything that moved, and made the U.S. the most hated and feared nation on the planet.
After the U.S. attacked half the Mideast, terrorism increased dramatically, as if the U.S. military was a terrorist factory
Terrorism increased dramatically, which is the opposite of their promises. If results-testing was in effect, our soldiers would return home—permanently. But it was not, and it is not, so they do not seem like they'll be returning home anytime soon. Simon's self-proclaimed “bias” as a neocon-libertarian, someone who favors intervention abroad and libertarian lassitude at home, is a schizophrenic indulgence he allows himself, but it reflects on his thinking abilities, at best, or his psychological status, at worst.
The U.S. is really good at nation building, says Simon—here they are dropping a little democracy on some country
Here the USA is jamming democracy down unwilling throats
We guess the reason he sold out about the U.S. being good at nation building is so when he gets to the talk show circuit as the pundit of the week, his rightwing credentials will be unblemished with any anti-neocon smears, which might even keep him from getting accepted to appear on Fox News. For the most part, however, Simon's pragmatism, wherein we need doers and accomplishers, not posers, fakers, and talkers, is refreshing in a post-truth world of useless talking heads blathering on endlessly, often using truthiness in place of truth. For more on truthiness (Colbert should get an award for the Word of the Century) see Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market.
We need doers, not posers, fakers, and talkers, says Simon. How refreshing in a post-truth world of useless talking heads blathering on endlessly, often using truthiness in place of truth
I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn't Already has many of the same ideas as Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America, which needed no new terms to describe the ego-stroking narcissism of trying to do good, doing something, and then ignoring results. This is progressivism at its worst. The hell with results—only intentions matter! Obama wrecked the country but his intentions were good so who cares, right? The Obama links above demonstrate that no sane person can really believe in the beneficence of Obozo's intentions! His "Moral Narcissism" may not be so much the road to hell being paved with good intentions, but rather the road to hell being paved with the pretense of good intentions, which makes it IMMORAL narcissism. See The Index Of Leading Cultural Indicators.
Moral Narcissism, a.k.a. postmodernism to some, has become an industry. But perhaps we can be saved: Perhaps (hopefully) Trump can find a way to wipe out the U.S.'s (especially academia) annoying political correctness obsessions, the microaggressions obsessions, the radical feminist foolishness, the victimized-minorities-on-pedestals-and-the-victimizing-whites-being-left-in-the-dirt-where-they-belong nonsense, and the general whites-are-evil malarkey non-minorities have endured for several decades and Obozo accelerated egregiously. Trump has surely put together the right dream team to pull it off (dumping political correctness). Technocrats are extremely skilled at managing behavior by inculcating ideological principles that can be used to label, to shame and to ostracize: the norms of "political correctness." Perhaps Trump calling foul and saying fake news and lying media enough will make the people re-examine the PC horse-pucky nonsense and that will create introspection. Well—one can hope!
Trump calling foul and saying 'fake news' and 'lying media' is his strong suit, whenever he gets it right, but that's unreliable
"As a businessman, Trump is giving the customer what they want — and what they want is to be rid of these moral narcissists from both sides of the political aisle. In that sense, when he boasts that he’s merely leading a “movement,” he is quite literally telling the truth." (Source: They call Trump a narcissist, but his enemies are worse, Roger L. Simon, NY Post)
The rich have rigged the game so the nonrich are screwed
The nonrich are so far beyond SCREWED by the greedy rich that they couldn't catch a bus back to SCREWED
Simon shows, in this book, how “moral narcissism has allowed the Democratic party to become a hidden party of the rich, thus wounding the middle class." This is especially important because, as anyone can see after reading Noam Chomsky's instant classic Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, the nonrich classes are up against monolithic, insurmountable challenges already, and the wounds may indeed prove fatal.
As one can see, the rich have rigged the game so that the ladder of class mobility is unclimbable by the nonrich
Incidentally, the USA is not only lousy at nation building and good at nation destroying in the context of foreign countries. The same applies to our ability to build or create our own country. We were good at nation creation in 1776 and this created a republic that was mostly a democracy. But in the last 50 years—especially this century—the USA has demonstrated its expertise at nation destroying and democracy destroying here in the USA. Our democracy is now an oligarchy catering to the rich and it is starting to feel like an aristocracy where we are slowly being conditioned for our new role in the U.S.: serfs that serve those that own America. See Democracy—an American Delusion and read Chomsky's wonderful book, discussed above.
Feudalism, where serfs carry royalty, is the general direction our country is going, unbeknownst to the clueless public
Our democracy is now an oligarchy catering to the rich and it is starting to feel like an aristocracy