Someone is looking at whatever you do, so always present your most charming you ~ FlyingSnail graphic by C. Spangler ~ Open Flying Snail Views in new tab or window

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. ~ George Orwell
None of the Above should be a valid choice on Voter Ballots


Mr. Rogers says, "Life is deep and simple, and what our society gives us is shallow and complicated."
Life is deep & simple & what our society gives us is shallow & complicated. ~ Mr. Rogers


Pathological Lying

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

Pathological lying (also called pseudologia fantastica and mythomania) is a behavior of habitual or compulsive lying[1][2] It was first described in the medical literature in 1891 by Anton Delbrueck.[2] Although it is a controversial topic,[2] pathological lying has been defined as "falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime".[1]

Characteristics

Defining characteristics of pathological lying include

  • A definitely internal, not an external, motive for the behavior can be discerned clinically: e.g., long-lasting extortion or habitual spousal battery might cause a person to lie repeatedly, without the lying being a pathological symptom.[2]

  • The stories told tend toward presenting the liar favorably. The liar "decorates their own person"[3] by telling stories that present them as the hero or the victim. For example, the person might be presented as being fantastically brave, as knowing or being related to many famous people, or as having great power, position, or wealth.

Some psychiatrists distinguish compulsive from pathological lying, while others consider them equivalent; yet others deny the existence of compulsive lying altogether; this remains an area of considerable controversy.[4]



HyperNormalisation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

HyperNormalisation is a 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. In the film, Curtis argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers, and technological utopians have given up on the complex "real world" and built a simple "fake world" that is run by corporations and kept stable by politicians.

The term "hypernormalisation" is taken from Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, about the paradoxes of life in the Soviet Union during the 20 years before it collapsed. A professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, he argues that everyone knew the system was failing, but as no one could imagine any alternative to the status quo, politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the "fakeness" was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed "hypernormalisation".

Chapters

The film consists of nine chapters.

1975

The fiscal crisis in New York City and the emergence of the idea that financial systems could run society; shuttle diplomacy between then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Middle Eastern leaders in the Arab-Israeli dispute and the subsequent retreat by Hafez al-Assad of Syria; and the onset of hypernormalisation in the Soviet Union.

The Human Bomb

How, following the United States' involvement in the 1982 Lebanon War, a vengeful al-Assad made an alliance with Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran. They planned to force the US out of the Middle East by encouraging civilians to carry out suicide bombings on American targets in the region, thereby avoiding reprisals. In February 1984, the U.S. withdrew all its troops from Lebanon because, in the words of then-US Secretary of State George P. Shultz, "we became paralysed by the complexity that we faced".

Altered States

By the mid-1980s, banks and corporations were joining up through computer networks to create a hidden system of power, and technological utopians whose roots lay in the counterculture of the 1960s also saw the internet as an opportunity to make an alternative world that was free of political and legal restraints.

Acid Flashback

John Perry Barlow's vision of cyberspace as the 1990s equivalent of the Acid Tests. Barlow, who had been part of the LSD (also known as "acid") counterculture in the 1960s and founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote a manifesto called A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Addressed to politicians, it declared "the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose upon us". Two computer hackers—Phiber Optik and Acid Phreak—knew that in reality corporations were using the internet to exert more control over the lives of people than governments had done in the past, and they demonstrated that hierarchies did exist online by obtaining Barlow's credit record from TRW Inc. and posting it on the internet.

The Colonel

This chapter describes the Reagan administration using Muammar Gaddafi as a pawn in their public relations (PR) strategy of creating a simplified, morally unambiguous foreign policy by blaming him for the 1985 Rome and Vienna airport attacks and the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing that killed US soldiers, both of which European security services attributed to Syrian intelligence agencies. Gaddafi is described as playing along for the sake of increasing his profile in the Arab world as a revolutionary. The 1986 United States bombing of Libya, 10 days after the disco bombing, is described as an operation carried out mainly for PR reasons, because attacking Syria would have been too risky.

The Truth Is Out There

[See also: Paul Bennewitz and Mirage Men]

This chapter begins with a montage of unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings recorded by members of the public in the United States. It argues that the phenomenon surrounding UFOs in the 1990s was born out of a counter-intelligence operation designed to make the public believe that secret airborne high-technology weapons systems the US military tested during and after the Cold War were alien visitations. Top secret memos forged by the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations were allegedly leaked to ufologists who spread the manufactured conspiracy theory of a government cover-up to the wider public. The method, called perception management, aimed to distract people from the complexities of the real world. American politics are described as having become increasingly detached from reality. Curtis uses the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s as an example of an event that took the West by surprise because reality had become less and less important. A Jane Fonda workout video is shown to illustrate that socialists had given up trying to change the real world and were instead focusing on the self and encouraging others to do the same. The video is intercut with footage of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, being executed by firing squad and buried following the Romanian Revolution in 1989.

Managed Outcomes

Ulrich Beck is identified as a left-wing German political theorist. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, he saw the world as too complex to change, and Beck asserted that politicians should merely keep the West stable by predicting and avoiding risks. Curtis looks at Aladdin, a computer that manages about 7% of the world's financial assets, analysing the past to anticipate what may happen in the future; and how anti-depressant drugs and social media both stabilise the emotions of individuals.

A Cautionary Tale

The start of this chapter is about the flaws of trying to predict the future by using data from the past. Curtis tells the story of how a card counter named Jess Marcum was recruited by Donald Trump to analyse the gambling habits of Akio Kashiwagi at his casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City, after Trump had lost millions of dollars to Kashiwagi. In an effort to avert the impending bankruptcy of the casino, Marcum devised a model that predicted a way of recouping the money from Kashiwagi, who lost US$10 million. However, before he could pay, he was killed by yakuza gangsters, and the casino went bankrupt, with Trump having to sell many of his assets to the banks.

Attention turns back to the Middle East and the Lockerbie Bombing in 1988. Curtis says that immediately after the bombing, journalists and investigators blamed Syria for carrying out the attack on behalf of Iran in revenge for the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 by the United States Navy. It was generally accepted as true until US security agencies announced that Libya was behind the attack. Some journalists and politicians believed that the West had made the volte-face to appease Syria's leader, whom the US and the United Kingdom required as an ally in the coming Gulf War.

He focuses on the spread of suicide bombing tactics from Shia to Sunni Islam and the targeting of civilians in Israel by Hamas during the 1990s. The resulting political paralysis led to a stalling of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. It is described as an unintended consequence of Israel's response to the 1992 killing of an Israeli border guard.

A montage is shown of clips from pre-9/11 disaster films in which New York City landmarks are variously destroyed by alien invaders, meteorites, and a tsunami. Curtis argues that such films were characteristic of a mood of uncertainty that pervaded the United States at the end of the 20th century.

Curtis shows how Muammar Gaddafi was turned into the West's "new best friend."

A World Without Power

The effect of the Iraq war wreaks havoc on the American psyche and the people retreat into cyberspace. Judea Pearl creates Bayesian networks that mimic human behavior. Judea's son, Daniel Pearl is the first American to be beheaded on a video uploaded to YouTube.

Meanwhile, social media algorithms show information that is pleasing to its users and hence doesn't challenge previously held beliefs. Despite this, Occupy Wall Street emerges in an attempt to disrupt the system by imitating the leaderless system that the internet was once imagined to become. Using a similar method, the Egyptian revolution of 2011 commenced.

Britain, France and the U.S. turn their backs on Muammar Gaddafi once the people rise up against him. The U.S. drops bombs with drones, and then footage of Gaddafi being captured by rebels is shown.

Neither Occupy Wall Street, nor the Arab Spring turn out very well for the revolutionaries.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin and his cabinet of political technologists create mass confusion. Vladislav Surkov uses ideas from art to turn Russian politics into a bewildering piece of theater. Donald Trump used the same techniques in his presidential campaign by using language from Occupy Wall Street and the extreme racist right-wing. Curtis asserts that Trump "defeated journalism" by rendering its fact-checking abilities irrelevant.

The American Left's attempt to resist Trump on the internet had no effect. In fact, they were just feeding the social media corporations who valued their many additional clicks.

Syria's revolution becomes more vicious and violent. The technique of suicide bombing that Curtis argues Hafez al-Assad introduced in order to unite the Middle East has instead torn it apart. Russia uses Surkov's concept of "non-linear warfare" to keep Syria destabilized. Russia claims to leave Syria, but doesn't.

Abu Musab al-Suri in Syria argues terrorists should not carry out large scale attacks such as Osama Bin Laden did, but should instead carry out random small-scale attacks throughout the West to create fear and chaos, that would be more difficult to retaliate against. This destabilization of the West's psyche leads to the passing of the Brexit and the popularity of Donald Trump.

The film closes with a montage, played over a Barbara Mandrell performance.

Don't help me set the table ~ Cause now there's one less place ~ I won't lay mama's silver ~ For a man who won't say grace ~ If home is where the heart is ~ Then your home's on the street ~ Me, I'll read a good book ~ Turn out the lights and go to sleep

— "Standing Room Only" from This Is Barbara Mandrell


Collective Narcissism

From WikiZer, Open wikipedia design ~ Source

Collective narcissism (or group narcissism) extends the concept of individual narcissism onto the social level of self. It is a tendency to exaggerate the positive image and importance of a group the individual belongs to – i.e. the ingroup.[1][2] While the classic definition of narcissism focuses on the individual, collective narcissism asserts that one can have a similar excessively high opinion of a group, and that a group can function as a narcissistic entity.[1] Collective narcissism is related to ethnocentrism; however, ethnocentrism primarily focuses on self-centeredness at an ethnic or cultural level, while collective narcissism is extended to any type of ingroup, beyond just cultures and ethnicities.[1][3] While ethnocentrism is an assertion of the ingroup's supremacy, collective narcissism is a self-defensive tendency to invest unfulfilled self-entitlement into a belief about ingroup's uniqueness and greatness. Thus, the ingroup is expected to become a vehicle of actualisation of frustrated self-entitlement.[2] When applied to a national group, collective narcissism is similar to nationalism: a desire for national supremacy.[4] However, the two constructs differ not only because collective narcissism can refer groups other than the nation. Nationalists are openly dominant and deny weakness. They seek international supremacy. Collective narcissism is related to a sense of weakness and preoccupation with the lack of recognition for the ingroup. Collective narcissism, but not nationalism, is related to hypersensitivity to intergroup threat and retaliatory hostility.  While nationalistic intergroup hostility is actively aggressive and openly dominant, collective narcissistic intergroup hostility is subjectively defensive. Collective narcissists protect the ingroup’s image rather than assert the ingroup’s dominance. However, these constructs are functionally distinct: they make different predictions for intergroup attitudes, they are related to different emotional profiles and different attitudes towards the self. Positive overlap between ingroup satisfaction and collective narcissism suppresses collective narcissistic intergroup hostility.[2]

Development of the concept

In Sigmund Freud's 1922 study Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, he noted how every little canton looks down upon the others with contempt,[5] as an instance of what would later to be termed Freud's theory of collective narcissism.[6] Wilhelm Reich and Isaiah Berlin explored what the latter called the rise of modern national narcissism: the self-adoration of peoples.[7] "Group narcissism" is described in a 1973 book entitled The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness by psychologist Erich Fromm.[8] In the 1990s, Pierre Bourdieu wrote of a sort of collective narcissism affecting intellectual groups, inclining them to turn a complacent gaze on themselves.[9] Noting how people's desire to see their own groups as better than other groups can lead to intergroup biasHenri Tajfel approached the same phenomena in the seventies and eighties, so as to create social identity theory, which argues that people's motivation to obtain positive self-esteem from their group memberships is one driving-force behind in-group bias.[10] The term "collective narcissism" was highlighted anew by researcher Agnieszka Golec de Zavala[1][2][11] who created the Collective Narcissism Scale[1] and developed research on intergroup and political consequences of collective narcissism. People who score high on the Collective Narcissists Scale agree that their group's importance and worth are not sufficiently recognised by others and that their group deserves special treatment. They insist that their group must obtain special recognition and respect.

The Scale was modelled on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. However, collective and individual narcissism are modestly correlated. Only collective narcissism predicts intergroup behaviours and attitudes. Collective narcissism is related to vulnerable narcissism (individual narcissism manifesting as distrustful and neurotic interpersonal style), rather than grandiose narcissism (individual narcissism manifesting as exceedingly self-aggrandising interpersonal style) and to low self-esteem. This is in line with theorising of  Theodore Adorno who proposed that collective narcissism motivated support for the Nazi politics in Germany and was a response to undermined sense of self-worth.

Characteristics and consequences

Collective narcissism is characterized by the members of a group holding an inflated view of their ingroup which requires external validation.[1] Collective narcissism can be exhibited by an individual on behalf of any social group or by a group as a whole. Research participants found that they could apply statements of the Collective Narcissism Scale to various groups: national, ethnic, religious, ideological, political, students of the same university, fans of the same football team, professional groups and organizations[1] Collectively narcissistic groups require external validation, just as individual narcissists do.[12] Organizations and groups who exhibit this behavior typically try to protect their identities through rewarding group-building behavior (this is positive reinforcement).[12]

Collective narcissism predicts retaliatory hostility to past, present, actual and imagined offences to the ingroup and negative attitudes towards groups perceived as threatening.[2][11] It predicts constant feeling threatened in intergroup situations that require a stretch of imagination to be perceived as insulting or threatening. For example, in Turkey, collective narcissists felt humiliated by the Turkish wait to be admitted to the European Union. After a transgression as petty as a joke made by a Polish celebrity about the country's government, Polish collective narcissists threatened physical punishment and openly rejoiced in the misfortunes of their "offender".[11] Collective narcissism predicts conspiracy thinking about secretive malevolent actions of outgroups.[13]

Golec de Zavala et al. state some parallels between individual and collective narcissism:

Individual/Collective Narcissism Equivalencies[1]
Individual Collective
I wish people would recognize my authority I wish other people would recognize the authority of my group
I have natural talent for influencing people My group has all predispositions to influence others
If I ruled the world it would be a much better place If my group ruled the world it would be a much better place
I am an extraordinary person My group is extraordinary
I like to be the center of attention I like when my group is the center of attention
I will never be satisfied until I get what I deserve I will never be satisfied until my group gets all that it deserves
I insist upon getting the respect that is due to me I insist upon my group getting the respect that is due to it
I want to amount to something in the eyes of the world I want my group to amount to something in the eyes of the world
People never give me enough recognition for the things I've donespacer Not many people seem to understand the full importance of my group

Collective vs. individual

There are several connections, and intricate relationships between collective and individual narcissism, or between individual narcissism stemming from group identities or activities. No single relationship between groups and individuals, however, is conclusive or universally applicable. In some cases, collective narcissism is an individual's idealization of the ingroup to which it belongs,[14] while in another the idealization of the group takes place at a more group-level, rather than an instillation within each individual member of the group.[1] In some cases, one might project the idealization of himself onto his group,[15] while in another case, the development of individual-narcissism might stem from being associated with a prestigious, accomplished, or extraordinary group.[1][16]

An example of the first case listed above is that of national identity. One might feel a great sense of love and respect for one's nation, flag, people, city, or governmental systems as a result of a collectively narcissistic perspective.[14] It must be remembered that these feelings are not explicitly the result of collective narcissism, and that collective narcissism is not explicitly the cause of patriotism, or any other group-identifying expression. However, glorification of one's group (such as a nation) can be seen in some cases as a manifestation of collective narcissism.[14]

In the case where the idealization of self is projected onto ones group, group-level narcissism tends to be less binding than in other cases.[15] Typically in this situation the individual—already individually narcissistic—uses a group to enhance his own self-perceived quality, and by identifying positively with the group and actively building it up, the narcissist is enhancing simultaneously both his own self-worth, and his group's worth.[15]However, because the link tends to be weaker, individual narcissists seeking to raise themselves up through a group will typically dissociate themselves from a group they feel is damaging to their image, or that is not improving proportionally to the amount of support they are investing in the group.[15]

Involvement in one's group has also been shown to be a factor in the level of collective narcissism exhibited by members of a group. Typically a more involved member of a group is more likely to exhibit a higher opinion of the group.[17] This results from an increased affinity for the group as one becomes more involved, as well as a sense of investment or contribution to the success of the group.[17] Also, another perspective asserts that individual narcissism is related to collective narcissism exhibited by individual group members.[3] Personal narcissists, seeing their group as a defining extension of themselves, will defend their group (collective narcissism) more avidly than a non-narcissist, to preserve their own perceived social standing along with their group's.[3] In this vein, a problem is presented; for while an individual narcissist will be heroic in defending his or her ingroup during intergroup conflicts, he or she may be a larger burden on the ingroup in intragroup situations by demanding admiration, and exhibiting more selfish behavior on the intragroup level—individual narcissism.[3]

Conversely, another relationship between collective narcissism and the individual can be established with individuals who have a low or damaged ego investing their image in the well-being of their group, which bears strong resemblance to the "ideal-hungry" followers in the charismatic leader-follower relationship.[1][18] As discussed, these ego-damaged group-investors seek solace in belonging to a group;[18] however, a charismatic, strong leader is not always requisite for someone weak to feel strength by building up a narcissistic opinion of their own group.[15]

The charismatic leader-follower relationship

Another sub-concept encompassed by collective narcissism is that of the "Charismatic Leader-Follower Relationship" theorized by political psychologist Jerrold Post.[18] Post takes the view that collective narcissism is exhibited as a collection of individual narcissists, and discusses how this type of relationship emerges when a narcissistic charismatic leader, appeals to narcissistic "ideal-hungry" followers.[18]

An important characteristic of the leader follower-relationship are the manifestations of narcissism by both the leader and follower of a group.[18] Within this relationship there are two categories of narcissists: the mirror-hungry narcissist, and the ideal-hungry narcissist—the leader and the followers respectively.[18] The mirror-hungry personality typically seeks a continuous flow of admiration and respect from his followers. Conversely, the ideal-hungry narcissist takes comfort in the charisma and confidence of his mirror-hungry leader. The relationship is somewhat symbiotic; for while the followers provide the continuous admiration needed by the mirror-hungry leader, the leader's charisma provides the followers with the sense of security and purpose that their ideal-hungry narcissism seeks.[18] Fundamentally both the leader and the followers exhibit strong collectively narcissistic sentiments—both parties are seeking greater justification and reason to love their group as much as possible.[1][18]

Perhaps the most significant example of this phenomenon would be that of Nazi Germany.[18] Adolf Hitler's charisma and polarizing speeches satisfied the German people's hunger for a strong leader.[18] Hitler's speeches were characterized by their emphasis on "strength"—referring to Germany—and "weakness"—referring to the Jewish people.[19] Some have even described Hitler's speeches as "hypnotic"—even to non-German speakers[18]—and his rallies as "watching hypnosis on large scale".[18] Hitler's charisma convinced the German people to believe that they were not weak, and that by destroying the perceived weakness from among them (the Jews), they would be enhancing their own strength—satisfying their ideal-hungry desire for strength, and pleasing their mirror-hungry charismatic leader.[18]

Intergroup aggression

Collective narcissism has been shown to be a factor in intergroup aggression and bias.[1] Primary components of collectively narcissistic intergroup relations involve aggression against outgroups with which collective narcissistic perceive as threatening.[20][1][2][11] Collective narcissism helps to explain unreasonable manifestations of retaliation between groups. A narcissistic group is more sensitive to perceived criticism exhibited by outgroups, and is therefore more likely to retaliate.[21] Collective narcissism is also related to negativity between groups who share a history of distressing experiences. The members of a narcissistic ingroup are likely to assume threats or negativity towards their ingroup where threats or negativity were not necessarily implied or exhibited.[1][2][11] It is thought that this heightened sensitivity to negative feelings towards the ingroup is a result of underlying doubts about the greatness of the ingroup held by its members.[18]

Similar to other elements of collective narcissism, intergroup aggression related to collective narcissism draws parallels with its individually narcissistic counterparts. An individual narcissist might react aggressively in the presence of humiliation, irritation, or anything threatening to his self-image.[22] Likewise, a collective narcissist, or a collectively narcissistic group might react aggressively when the image of the group is in jeopardy, or when the group is collectively humiliated.[1]

A study conducted among 6 to 9 year-olds by Judith Griffiths indicated that ingroups and outgroups among these children functioned relatively identical to other known collectively narcissistic groups in terms of intergroup aggression. The study noted that children generally had a significantly higher opinion of their ingroup than of surrounding outgroups, and that such ingroups indirectly or directly exhibited aggression on surrounding outgroups.[23]

Ethnocentrism

Main article: Ethnocentrism

Collective narcissism and ethnocentrism are closely related; they can be positively correlated and often shown to be coexistent, but they are independent in that either can exist without the presence of the other.[3] In a study conducted by PhD Boris Bizumic, some ethnocentrism was shown to be an expression of group-level narcissism.[3] It was noted, however, that not all manifestations of ethnocentrism are narcissistically based, and conversely, not all cases of group-level narcissism are by any means ethnocentric.[3]

It is suggested that ethnocentrism, when pertaining to discrimination or aggression based on the self-love of one's group, or in other words, based on exclusion from one's self-perceived superior group is an expression of collective narcissism.[1] In this sense, it might be said the collective and group narcissism overlap with ethnocentrism depending on given definitions, and the breadth of their acceptance.

In the world

In general, collective narcissism is most strongly manifested in groups that are "self-relevant", like religions, nationality, or ethnicity.[15] As discussed earlier, phenomena such as national identity (nationality) and Nazi Germany (ethnicity and nationality) are manifestations of collective narcissism among groups that critically define the people who belong to them.

In addition to this, the collective narcissism that a group may already possess is likely to be exacerbated during conflict and aggression.[1] And in terms of cultural effects, cultures that place an emphasis on the individual are apparently more likely to see manifestations of perceived individual greatness projected onto social ingroups existing within that culture.[1] Also, and finally, narcissistic groups are not restricted to any one homogenous composition of collective or individually collective or individual narcissists.[3] A quote from Hitler almost ideally sums the actual nature of collective narcissism as it is realistically manifested, and might be found reminiscent of almost every idea presented here: "My group is better and more important than other groups, but still is not worthy of me".[3]



20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths & Psychopaths
Use To Silence You

by Shahida Arabi, Updated December 2, 2018, Thought Catalog Source

A deep dive into understanding the narcissistic sociopath, psychopath, and other anti-social personalities.

Toxic people such as malignant narcissistspsychopaths and those with antisocial traits engage in maladaptive behaviors in relationships that ultimately exploit, demean and hurt their intimate partners, family members and friends. They use a plethora of diversionary tactics that distort the reality of their victims and deflect responsibility. Although those who are not narcissistic can employ these tactics as well, abusive narcissists use these to an excessive extent in an effort to escape accountability for their actions.

Here are the 20 diversionary tactics toxic people use to silence and degrade you.

1. Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that can be described in different variations of three words: “That didn’t happen,” “You imagined it,” and “Are you crazy?” Gaslighting is perhaps one of the most insidious manipulative tactics out there because it works to distort and erode your sense of reality; it eats away at your ability to trust yourself and inevitably disables you from feeling justified in calling out abuse and mistreatment.

When a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath gaslights you, you may be prone to gaslighting yourself as a way to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that might arise. Two conflicting beliefs battle it out: is this person right or can I trust what I experienced? A manipulative person will convince you that the former is an inevitable truth while the latter is a sign of dysfunction on your end.

In order to resist gaslighting, it’s important to ground yourself in your own reality – sometimes writing things down as they happened, telling a friend or reiterating your experience to a support network can help to counteract the gaslighting effect. The power of having a validating community is that it can redirect you from the distorted reality of a malignant person and back to your own inner guidance.

2. Projection.

One sure sign of toxicity is when a person is chronically unwilling to see his or her own shortcomings and uses everything in their power to avoid being held accountable for them. This is known as projection. Projection is a defense mechanism used to displace responsibility of one’s negative behavior and traits by attributing them to someone else. It ultimately acts as a digression that avoids ownership and accountability.

While we all engage in projection to some extent, according to Narcissistic Personality clinical expert Dr. Martinez-Lewi, the projections of a narcissist are often psychologically abusive. Rather than acknowledge their own flaws, imperfections and wrongdoings, malignant narcissists and sociopaths opt to dump their own traits on their unsuspecting suspects in a way that is painful and excessively cruel. Instead of admitting that self-improvement may be in order, they would prefer that their victims take responsibility for their behavior and feel ashamed of themselves. This is a way for a narcissist to project any toxic shame they have about themselves onto another.

For example, a person who engages in pathological lying may accuse their partner of fibbing; a needy spouse may call their husband “clingy” in an attempt to depict them as the one who is dependent; a rude employee may call their boss ineffective in an effort to escape the truth about their own productivity.

Narcissistic abusers love to play the “blameshifting game.” Objectives of the game: they win, you lose, and you or the world at large is blamed for everything that’s wrong with them. This way, you get to babysit their fragile ego while you’re thrust into a sea of self-doubt. Fun, right?

Solution? Don’t “project” your own sense of compassion or empathy onto a toxic person and don’t own any of the toxic person’s projections either. As manipulation expert and author Dr. George Simon (2010) notes in his book In Sheep’s Clothing, projecting our own conscience and value system onto others has the potential consequence of being met with further exploitation.

Narcissists on the extreme end of the spectrum usually have no interest in self-insight or change. It’s important to cut ties and end interactions with toxic people as soon as possible so you can get centered in your own reality and validate your own identity. You don’t have to live in someone else’s cesspool of dysfunction.

3. Nonsensical conversations from hell.

If you think you’re going to have a thoughtful discussion with someone who is toxic, be prepared for epic mindfuckery rather than conversational mindfulness.

Malignant narcissists and sociopaths use word salad, circular conversations, ad hominem arguments, projection and gaslighting to disorient you and get you off track should you ever disagree with them or challenge them in any way. They do this in order to discredit, confuse and frustrate you, distract you from the main problem and make you feel guilty for being a human being with actual thoughts and feelings that might differ from their own. In their eyes, you are the problem if you happen to exist.

Spend even ten minutes arguing with a toxic narcissist and you’ll find yourself wondering how the argument even began at all. You simply disagreed with them about their absurd claim that the sky is red and now your entire childhood, family, friends, career and lifestyle choices have come under attack. That is because your disagreement picked at their false belief that they are omnipotent and omniscient, resulting in a narcissistic injury.

Remember: toxic people don’t argue with you, they essentially argue with themselves and you become privy to their long, draining monologues. They thrive off the drama and they live for it. Each and every time you attempt to provide a point that counters their ridiculous assertions, you feed them supply. Don’t feed the narcissists supply – rather, supply yourself with the confirmation that their abusive behavior is the problem, not you. Cut the interaction short as soon as you anticipate it escalating and use your energy on some decadent self-care instead.

4. Blanket statements and generalizations.

Malignant narcissists aren’t always intellectual masterminds – many of them are intellectually lazy. Rather than taking the time to carefully consider a different perspective, they generalize anything and everything you say, making blanket statements that don’t acknowledge the nuances in your argument or take into account the multiple perspectives you’ve paid homage to. Better yet, why not put a label on you that dismisses your perspective altogether?

On a larger scale, generalizations and blanket statements invalidate experiences that don’t fit in the unsupported assumptions, schemas and stereotypes of society; they are also used to maintain the status quo. This form of digression exaggerates one perspective to the point where a social justice issue can become completely obscured. For example, rape accusations against well-liked figures are often met with the reminder that there are false reports of rape that occur. While those do occur, they are rare, and in this case, the actions of one become labeled the behavior of the majority while the specific report itself remains unaddressed.

These everyday microaggressions also happen in toxic relationships. If you bring up to a narcissistic abuser that their behavior is unacceptable for example, they will often make blanket generalizations about your hypersensitivity or make a generalization such as, “You are never satisfied,” or “You’re always too sensitive” rather than addressing the real issues at hand. It’s possible that you are oversensitive at times, but it is also possible that the abuser is also insensitive and cruel the majority of the time.

Hold onto your truth and resist generalizing statements by realizing that they are in fact forms of black and white illogical thinking. Toxic people wielding blanket statements do not represent the full richness of experience – they represent the limited one of their singular experience and overinflated sense of self.

5. Deliberately misrepresenting your thoughts and feelings to the point of absurdity.

In the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath, your differing opinions, legitimate emotions and lived experiences get translated into character flaws and evidence of your irrationality.

Narcissists weave tall tales to reframe what you’re actually saying as a way to make your opinions look absurd or heinous. Let’s say you bring up the fact that you’re unhappy with the way a toxic friend is speaking to you. In response, he or she may put words in your mouth, saying, “Oh, so now you’re perfect?” or “So I am a bad person, huh?” when you’ve done nothing but express your feelings. This enables them to invalidate your right to have thoughts and emotions about their inappropriate behavior and instills in you a sense of guilt when you attempt to establish boundaries.

This is also a popular form of diversion and cognitive distortion that is known as “mind reading.” Toxic people often presume they know what you’re thinking and feeling. They chronically jump to conclusions based on their own triggers rather than stepping back to evaluate the situation mindfully. They act accordingly based on their own delusions and fallacies and make no apologies for the harm they cause as a result. Notorious for putting words in your mouth, they depict you as having an intention or outlandish viewpoint you didn’t possess. They accuse you of thinking of them as toxic – even before you’ve gotten the chance to call them out on their behavior – and this also serves as a form of preemptive defense.

Simply stating, “I never said that,” and walking away should the person continue to accuse you of doing or saying something you didn’t can help to set a firm boundary in this type of interaction. So long as the toxic person can blameshift and digress from their own behavior, they have succeeded in convincing you that you should be “shamed” for giving them any sort of realistic feedback.

6. Nitpicking and moving the goal posts.

The difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism is the presence of a personal attack and impossible standards. These so-called “critics” often don’t want to help you improve, they just want to nitpick, pull you down and scapegoat you in any way they can. Abusive narcissists and sociopaths employ a logical fallacy known as “moving the goalposts” in order to ensure that they have every reason to be perpetually dissatisfied with you. This is when, even after you’ve provided all the evidence in the world to validate your argument or taken an action to meet their request, they set up another expectation of you or demand more proof.

Do you have a successful career? The narcissist will then start to pick on why you aren’t a multi-millionaire yet. Did you already fulfill their need to be excessively catered to? Now it’s time to prove that you can also remain “independent.” The goal posts will perpetually change and may not even be related to each other; they don’t have any other point besides making you vie for the narcissist’s approval and validation.

By raising the expectations higher and higher each time or switching them completely, highly manipulative and toxic people are able to instill in you a pervasive sense of unworthiness and of never feeling quite “enough.” By pointing out one irrelevant fact or one thing you did wrong and developing a hyperfocus on it, narcissists get to divert from your strengths and pull you into obsessing over any flaws or weaknesses instead. They get you thinking about the next expectation of theirs you’re going to have to meet – until eventually you’ve bent over backwards trying to fulfill their every need – only to realize it didn’t change the horrific way they treated you.

Don’t get sucked into nitpicking and changing goal posts – if someone chooses to rehash an irrelevant point over and over again to the point where they aren’t acknowledging the work you’ve done to validate your point or satisfy them, their motive isn’t to better understand. It’s to further provoke you into feeling as if you have to constantly prove yourself. Validate and approve of yourself. Know that you are enough and you don’t have to be made to feel constantly deficient or unworthy in some way.

7. Changing the subject to evade accountability.

This type of tactic is what I like to call the “What about me?” syndrome. It is a literal digression from the actual topic that works to redirect attention to a different issue altogether. Narcissists don’t want you to be on the topic of holding them accountable for anything, so they will reroute discussions to benefit them. Complaining about their neglectful parenting? They’ll point out a mistake you committed seven years ago. This type of diversion has no limits in terms of time or subject content, and often begins with a sentence like “What about the time when…”

On a macrolevel, these diversions work to derail discussions that challenge the status quo. A discussion about gay rights, for example, may be derailed quickly by someone who brings in another social justice issue just to distract people from the main argument.

As Tara Moss, author of Speaking Out: A 21st Century Handbook for Women and Girls, notes, specificity is needed in order to resolve and address issues appropriately – that doesn’t mean that the issues that are being brought up don’t matter, it just means that the specific time and place may not be the best context to discuss them.

Don’t be derailed – if someone pulls a switcheroo on you, you can exercise what I call the “broken record” method and continue stating the facts without giving in to their distractions. Redirect their redirection by saying, “That’s not what I am talking about. Let’s stay focused on the real issue.” If they’re not interested, disengage and spend your energy on something more constructive – like not having a debate with someone who has the mental age of a toddler.

8. Covert and overt threats.

Narcissistic abusers and otherwise toxic people feel very threatened when their excessive sense of entitlement, false sense of superiority and grandiose sense of self are challenged in any way. They are prone to making unreasonable demands on others – while punishing you for not living up to their impossible to reach expectations.

Rather than tackle disagreements or compromises maturely, they set out to divert you from your right to have your own identity and perspective by attempting to instill fear in you about the consequences of disagreeing or complying with their demands. To them, any challenge results in an ultimatum and “do this or I’ll do that” becomes their daily mantra.

If someone’s reaction to you setting boundaries or having a differing opinion from your own is to threaten you into submission, whether it’s a thinly veiled threat or an overt admission of what they plan to do, this is a red flag of someone who has a high degree of entitlement and has no plans of compromising. Take threats seriously and show the narcissist you mean business; document threats and report them whenever possible and legally feasible.

9. Name-calling.

Narcissists preemptively blow anything they perceive as a threat to their superiority out of proportion. In their world, only they can ever be right and anyone who dares to say otherwise creates a narcissistic injury that results in narcissistic rage. As Mark Goulston, M.D. asserts, narcissistic rage does not result from low self-esteem but rather a high sense of entitlement and false sense of superiority.

The lowest of the low resort to narcissistic rage in the form of name-calling when they can’t think of a better way to manipulate your opinion or micromanage your emotions. Name-calling is a quick and easy way to put you down, degrade you and insult your intelligence, appearance or behavior while invalidating your right to be a separate person with a right to his or her perspective.

Name-calling can also be used to criticize your beliefs, opinions and insights. A well-researched perspective or informed opinion suddenly becomes “silly” or “idiotic” in the hands of a malignant narcissist or sociopath who feels threatened by it and cannot make a respectful, convincing rebuttal. Rather than target your argument, they target you as a person and seek to undermine your credibility and intelligence in any way they possibly can. It’s important to end any interaction that consists of name-calling and communicate that you won’t tolerate it. Don’t internalize it: realize that they are resorting to name-calling because they are deficient in higher level methods.

10. Destructive conditioning.

Toxic people condition you to associate your strengths, talents, and happy memories with abuse, frustration and disrespect. They do this by sneaking in covert and overt put-downs about the qualities and traits they once idealized as well as sabotaging your goals, ruining celebrations, vacations and holidays. They may even isolate you from your friends and family and make you financially dependent upon them. Like Pavlov’s dogs, you’re essentially “trained” over time to become afraid of doing the very things that once made your life fulfilling.

Narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and otherwise toxic people do this because they wish to divert attention back to themselves and how you’re going to please them. If there is anything outside of them that may threaten their control over your life, they seek to destroy it. They need to be the center of attention at all times. In the idealization phase, you were once the center of a narcissist’s world – now the narcissist becomes the center of yours.

Narcissists are also naturally pathologically envious and don’t want anything to come in between them and their influence over you. Your happiness represents everything they feel they cannot have in their emotionally shallow lives. After all, if you learn that you can get validation, respect and love from other sources besides the toxic person, what’s to keep you from leaving them? To toxic people, a little conditioning can go a long way to keep you walking on eggshells and falling just short of your big dreams.

11. Smear campaigns and stalking.

When toxic types can’t control the way you see yourself, they start to control how others see you; they play the martyr while you’re labeled the toxic one. A smear campaign is a preemptive strike to sabotage your reputation and slander your name so that you won’t have a support network to fall back on lest you decide to detach and cut ties with this toxic person. They may even stalk and harass you or the people you know as a way to supposedly “expose” the truth about you; this exposure acts as a way to hide their own abusive behavior while projecting it onto you.

Some smear campaigns can even work to pit two people or two groups against each other. A victim in an abusive relationship with a narcissist often doesn’t know what’s being said about them during the relationship, but they eventually find out the falsehoods shortly after they’ve been discarded.

Toxic people will gossip behind your back (and in front of your face), slander you to your loved ones or their loved ones, create stories that depict you as the aggressor while they play the victim, and claim that you engaged in the same behaviors that they are afraid you will accuse them of engaging in. They will also methodically, covertly and deliberately abuse you so they can use your reactions as a way to prove that they are the so-called “victims” of your abuse.

The best way to handle a smear campaign is to stay mindful of your reactions and stick to the facts. This is especially pertinent for high-conflict divorces with narcissists who may use your reactions to their provocations against you. Document any form of harassment, cyberbullying or stalking incidents and always speak to your narcissist through a lawyer whenever possible. You may wish to take legal action if you feel the stalking and harassment is getting out of control; finding a lawyer who is well-versed in Narcissistic Personality Disorder is crucial if that’s the case. Your character and integrity will speak for itself when the narcissist’s false mask begins to slip.

12. Love-bombing and devaluation.

Toxic people put you through an idealization phase until you’re sufficiently hooked and invested in beginning a friendship or relationship with you. Then, they begin to devalue you while insulting the very things they admired in the first place. Another variation of this is when a toxic individual puts you on a pedestal while aggressively devaluing and attacking someone else who threatens their sense of superiority.

Narcissistic abusers do this all the time – they devalue their exes to their new partners, and eventually the new partner starts to receive the same sort of mistreatment as the narcissist’s ex-partner. Ultimately what will happen is that you will also be on the receiving end of the same abuse. You will one day be the ex-partner they degrade to their new source of supply. You just don’t know it yet. That’s why it’s important to stay mindful of the love-bombing technique whenever you witness behavior that doesn’t align with the saccharine sweetness a narcissist subjects you to.

As life coach Wendy Powell suggests, slowing things down with people you suspect may be toxic is an important way of combating the love-bombing technique. Be wary of the fact that how a person treats or speaks about someone else could potentially translate into the way they will treat you in the future.

13. Preemptive defense.

When someone stresses the fact that they are a “nice guy” or girl, that you should “trust them” right away or emphasizes their credibility without any provocation from you whatsoever, be wary.

Toxic and abusive people overstate their ability to be kind and compassionate. They often tell you that you should “trust” them without first building a solid foundation of trust. They may “perform” a high level of sympathy and empathy at the beginning of your relationship to dupe you, only to unveil their false mask later on. When you see their false mask begins to slip periodically during the devaluation phase of the abuse cycle, the true self is revealed to be terrifyingly cold, callous and contemptuous.

Genuinely nice people rarely have to persistently show off their positive qualities – they exude their warmth more than they talk about it and they know that actions speak volumes more than mere words. They know that trust and respect is a two-way street that requires reciprocity, not repetition.

To counter a preemptive defense, reevaluate why a person may be emphasizing their good qualities. Is it because they think you don’t trust them, or because they know you shouldn’t? Trust actions more than empty words and see how someone’s actions communicate who they are, not who they say they are.

14. Triangulation.

Bringing in the opinion, perspective or suggested threat of another person into the dynamic of an interaction is known as “triangulation.” Often used to validate the toxic person’s abuse while invalidating the victim’s reactions to abuse, triangulation can also work to manufacture love triangles that leave you feeling unhinged and insecure.

Malignant narcissists love to triangulate their significant other with strangers, co-workers, ex-partners, friends and even family members in order to evoke jealousy and uncertainty in you. They also use the opinions of others to validate their point of view.

This is a diversionary tactic meant to pull your attention away from their abusive behavior and into a false image of them as a desirable, sought after person. It also leaves you questioning yourself – if Mary did agree with Tom, doesn’t that mean that you must be wrong? The truth is, narcissists love to “report back” falsehoods about others say about you, when in fact, they are the ones smearing you.

To resist triangulation tactics, realize that whoever the narcissist is triangulating with is also being triangulated by your relationship with the narcissist as well. Everyone is essentially being played by this one person. Reverse “triangulate” the narcissist by gaining support from a third party that is not under the narcissist’s influence – and also by seeking your own validation.

15. Bait and feign innocence.

Toxic individuals lure you into a false sense of security simply to have a platform to showcase their cruelty. Baiting you into a mindless, chaotic argument can escalate into a showdown rather quickly with someone who doesn’t know the meaning of respect. A simple disagreement may bait you into responding politely initially, until it becomes clear that the person has a malicious motive of tearing you down.

By “baiting” you with a seemingly innocuous comment disguised as a rational one, they can then begin to play with you. Remember: narcissistic abusers have learned about your insecurities, the unsettling catchphrases that interrupt your confidence, and the disturbing topics that reenact your wounds – and they use this knowledge maliciously to provoke you. After you’ve fallen for it, hook line and sinker, they’ll stand back and innocently ask whether you’re “okay” and talk about how they didn’t “mean” to agitate you. This faux innocence works to catch you off guard and make you believe that they truly didn’t intend to hurt you, until it happens so often you can’t deny the reality of their malice any longer.

It helps to realize when you’re being baited so you can avoid engaging altogether. Provocative statements, name-calling, hurtful accusations or unsupported generalizations, for example, are common baiting tactics. Your gut instinct can also tell you when you’re being baited – if you feel “off” about a certain comment and continue to feel this way even after it has been expanded on, that’s a sign you may need to take some space to reevaluate the situation before choosing to respond.

16. Boundary testing and hoovering.

Narcissists, sociopaths and otherwise toxic people continually try and test your boundaries to see which ones they can trespass. The more violations they’re able to commit without consequences, the more they’ll push the envelope.

That’s why survivors of emotional as well as physical abuse often experience even more severe incidents of abuse each and every time they go back to their abusers.

Abusers tend to “hoover” their victims back in with sweet promises, fake remorse and empty words of how they are going to change, only to abuse their victims even more horrifically. In the abuser’s sick mind, this boundary testing serves as a punishment for standing up to the abuse and also for being going back to it. When narcissists try to press the emotional reset button, reinforce your boundaries even more strongly rather than backtracking on them.

Remember – highly manipulative people don’t respond to empathy or compassion. They respond to consequences.

17. Aggressive jabs disguised as jokes.

Covert narcissists enjoy making malicious remarks at your expense. These are usually dressed up as “just jokes” so that they can get away with saying appalling things while still maintaining an innocent, cool demeanor. Yet any time you are outraged at an insensitive, harsh remark, you are accused of having no sense of humor. This is a tactic frequently used in verbal abuse.

The contemptuous smirk and sadistic gleam in their eyes gives it away, however – like a predator that plays with its food, a toxic person gains pleasure from hurting you and being able to get away with it. After all, it’s just a joke, right? Wrong. It’s a way to gaslight you into thinking their abuse is a joke – a way to divert from their cruelty and onto your perceived sensitivity. It is important that when this happens, you stand up for yourself and make it clear that you won’t tolerate this type of behavior.

Calling out manipulative people on their covert put-downs may result in further gaslighting from the abuser but maintain your stance that their behavior is not okay and end the interaction immediately if you have to.

18. Condescending sarcasm and patronizing tone.

Belittling and degrading a person is a toxic person’s forte and their tone of voice is only one tool in their toolbox. Sarcasm can be a fun mode of communication when both parties are engaged, but narcissists use it chronically as a way to manipulate you and degrade you. If you in any way react to it, you must be “too sensitive.”

Forget that the toxic person constantly has temper tantrums every time their big bad ego is faced with realistic feedback – the victim is the hypersensitive one, apparently. So long as you’re treated like a child and constantly challenged for expressing yourself, you’ll start to develop a sense of hypervigilance about voicing your thoughts and opinions without reprimand. This self-censorship enables the abuser to put in less work in silencing you, because you begin to silence yourself.

Whenever you are met with a condescending demeanor or tone, call it out firmly and assertively. You don’t deserve to be spoken down to like a child – nor should you ever silence yourself to meet the expectation of someone else’s superiority complex.

19. Shaming.

“You should be ashamed of yourself” is a favorite saying of toxic people. Though it can be used by someone who is non-toxic, in the realm of the narcissist or sociopath, shaming is an effective method that targets any behavior or belief that might challenge a toxic person’s power. It can also be used to destroy and whittle away at a victim’s self-esteem: if a victim dares to be proud of something, shaming the victim for that specific trait, quality or accomplishment can serve to diminish their sense of self and stifle any pride they may have.

Malignant narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths enjoy using your own wounds against you – so they will even shame you about any abuse or injustice you’ve suffered in your lifetime as a way to retraumatize you. Were you a childhood abuse survivor? A malignant narcissist or sociopath will claim that you must’ve done something to deserve it, or brag about their own happy childhood as a way to make you feel deficient and unworthy. What better way to injure you, after all, than to pick at the original wound? As surgeons of madness, they seek to exacerbate wounds, not help heal them.

If you suspect you’re dealing with a toxic person, avoid revealing any of your vulnerabilities or past traumas. Until they’ve proven their character to you, there is no point disclosing information that could be potentially used against you.

20. Control.

Most importantly, toxic abusers love to maintain control in whatever way they can. They isolate you, maintain control over your finances and social networks, and micromanage every facet of your life. Yet the most powerful mechanism they have for control is toying with your emotions.

That’s why abusive narcissists and sociopaths manufacture situations of conflict out of thin air to keep you feeling off center and off balanced. That’s why they chronically engage in disagreements about irrelevant things and rage over perceived slights. That’s why they emotionally withdraw, only to re-idealize you once they start to lose control. That’s why they vacillate between their false self and their true self, so you never get a sense of psychological safety or certainty about who your partner truly is.

The more power they have over your emotions, the less likely you’ll trust your own reality and the truth about the abuse you’re enduring. Knowing the manipulative tactics and how they work to erode your sense of self can arm you with the knowledge of what you’re facing and at the very least, develop a plan to regain control over your own life and away from toxic people.



Identity Fusion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

Identity fusion, a psychological construct rooted in social psychology and cognitive anthropology, is a form of alignment with groups in which members experience a visceral sense of oneness with the group. The construct relies on a distinction between the personal self and the social self. The personal self refers to the characteristics that make someone a unique person (e.g., tall, old, intelligent), while the social self pertains to the characteristics that align the person with groups (e.g., American, fraternity brother, student council member, etc.). As the name suggests, identity fusion involves the union of the personal and social selves. When fusion occurs, both the personal and social selves remain salient and influential but the boundaries between them become highly permeable. In addition, the theory proposes that fused persons come to regard other group members as “family” and develop strong relational ties to them as well as ties to the collective. Therefore, fused persons are not just bound to the collective; they are tied to the individual members of the collective.

The potency of the personal self and relational ties distinguish identity fusion from other forms of alignment with groups, such as “group identification”. In group identification, allegiance to the collective eclipses the personal self and relational ties to other group members. Because of this, the personal self and relational ties are not as involved in theories of group identification. Identity fusion theorizes that fusion measures should be more predictive of extreme pro-group behavior than previously proposed measures of identification. In fact, there is growing evidence of this. Measures of identity fusion are particularly powerful predictors of personally costly pro-group behaviors, including endorsement of extreme behaviors, such as fighting and dying for the group.

Why Understanding Identity
Fusion Is So Important

Article by OMFGWhatHaveWeDONE

Identity Fusion - aka “Sports team” mode

A majority of the United States is confused by the behavior of ~34% of the rest of the country.

To grasp what has happened, you just have to realize that some political supporters have gone into “Sports Teams” mode. They have turned politics into an Identity Fusion issue.

Basically, they have stopped thinking about the representative government as a functional group of public servants. They are thinking about it as if it's their "team" and everything political has become "us versus them."

Some characteristics of a team fanatic

[ I'm using Trump Supporters as an example because it's currently the most obvious example, but it can apply to both sides to some degree. ]

Once you realize this is what's happening, the common attributes are there to see:

Wearing identifying clothing (hats, badges, colors, logos, slogans) in everyday life.

Loyalty regardless of performance or behavior of their "team."

Instant disrespect for any member of the opposing team based solely on team affiliation.

Hatred of any perceived disloyalty from fellow team fans.

Having rallies and parades even when there is no pending game with the primary goal to celebrate and reenforce being loyal.

At gatherings, fans chant slogans and/or sing.

Team players (not fans, but players) are 100% supported unless they leave the team. Then they are ostracized and demonized even though they are basically the same person.

This simple concept explains the logic-defying behavior we are constantly seeing in politics today.

I debated posting this on Memorial Day. It's a day Americans look back and remember the sacrifices other Americans made for us.

We need to stop with the divisive team fanaticism against each other. We are Americans and our government is made up of civil servants who [are supposed to?] swear loyalty [to?] the Constitution... they are NOT your sports team.

Want to know more?

Paper on Identity Fusion from University of Texas:

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c5c0/9988102c68dea5cfd34d67a28dab59a99932.pdf

More readable version of this information from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_fusion

[Note: this content is OC and probably contains spelling and/or grammar errors. I'm not a professional journalist or writer. Just a long time Imgurian who likes to make memes. Please let me know of any mistakes.] ~ Complete [Local] Article w/Graphics: Understanding Identity Fusion



Fascism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and control of industry and commerce, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries.  Opposed to liberalismMarxism and anarchism, fascism is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A "military citizenship" arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.  The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.  Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.  Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.

Historians, political scientists and other scholars have long debated the exact nature of fascism.  Each interpretation of fascism is distinct, leaving many definitions too wide or narrow.

One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts: the fascist negations (anti-liberalismanti-communism and anti-conservatism); nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence and promotion of masculinity, youth and charismatic leadership.  According to many scholars, fascism—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far-right.



Blackshirts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

The Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MVSN, "Voluntary Militia for National Security"), commonly called the Blackshirts (Italian:  Camicie Nere, CCNN, singular: Camicia Nera) or squadristi (singular: squadrista), was originally the paramilitary wing of the National Fascist Party and, after 1923, an all-volunteer  militia  of the Kingdom of Italy. Its members were distinguished by their black uniforms (modelled on those of the  Arditi, Italy's elite troops of World War I) and their loyalty to  Benito Mussolini, the  Duce  (leader) of  Fascism, to whom they swore an oath. The founders of the paramilitary groups were nationalist intellectuals, former army officers and young landowners opposing peasants' and country labourers' unions. Their methods became harsher as Mussolini's power grew, and they used violence and intimidation against Mussolini's opponents.[1] In 1943, following the fall of the Fascist regime, the MVSN was integrated into the Royal Italian Army and disbanded.

History

The Blackshirts were established as the squadristi in 1919 and consisted of many disgruntled former soldiers. It was given the task of leading fights against their bitter enemies – the Socialists. They may have numbered 200,000 by the time of Mussolini's March on Rome from 27 to 29 October 1922. In 1922 the squadristi were reorganized into the milizia and formed numerous bandiere, and on 1 February 1923 the Blackshirts became the Volunteer Militia for National Security (Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, or MVSN), which lasted until the 8 September 1943 Armistice of Cassibile. The Italian Social Republic, located in the areas of northern Italy occupied by Germany, reformed the MVSN on 8 December 1943 into the National Republican Guard (Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana, or GNR).



Sturmabteilung
a.k.a. Brownshirts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

The Sturmabteilung (SA) primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating SlavsRomanistrade unionists, and, especially, Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

The SA were also called the "Brownshirts" (Braunhemden) from the color of their uniform shirts, similar to Benito Mussolini's blackshirts

In violent riots, members of the SA shattered the glass storefronts of about 7,500 Jewish stores and businesses, hence the name Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) given to the events.[30] Jewish homes were ransacked throughout Germany.

**** The downfall of Brownshirts was initiated by Night of the Long Knives and finished by Hitler SS.



Treason

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

In lawtreason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife or that of a master by his servant. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a lesser superior was petty treason. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.

At times, the term traitor has been used as a political epithet, regardless of any verifiable treasonable action. In a civil war or insurrection, the winners may deem the losers to be traitors. Likewise the term traitor is used in heated political discussion – typically as a slur against political dissidents, or against officials in power who are perceived as failing to act in the best interest of their constituents. In certain cases, as with the Dolchstoßlegende (Stab-in-the-back myth), the accusation of treason towards a large group of people can be a unifying political message. Treason is considered to be different and on many occasions a separate charge from "treasonable felony" in many parts of the world.

§2381. Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807 Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148 .)



Cult

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

The term cult usually refers to a social group defined by its religiousspiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal. The term itself is controversial and it has divergent definitions in both popular culture and academia and it also has been an ongoing source of contention among scholars across several fields of study.[1][2] In the sociological classifications of religious movements, a cult is a social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices,[3] although this is often unclear.[4][5][6] Other researchers present a less-organized picture of cults saying that they arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.[7] Groups said to be cults range in size from local groups with a few members to international organizations with millions.[8]

Beginning in the 1930s, cults became the object of sociological study in the context of the study of religious behavior.[9] From the 1940s the Christian countercult movement has opposed some sects and new religious movements, and it labelled them as cults for their "un-Christian" unorthodox beliefs. The secular anti-cult movement began in the 1970s and it opposed certain groups, often charging them with mind control and partly motivated in reaction to acts of violence committed by some of their members. Some of the claims and actions of the anti-cult movement have been disputed by scholars and by the news media, leading to further public controversy.

The term "new religious movement" refers to religions which have appeared since the mid-1800s. Many, but not all of them, have been considered to be cults. Sub-categories of cults include: Doomsday cultspersonality cultspolitical cults, destructive cults, racist cults, polygamist cults, and terrorist cults. Various national governments have reacted to cult-related issues in different ways, and this has sometimes led to controversy.



Ineligibility Clause
Emoluments Clause

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

The Ineligibility Clause (sometimes also called the Emoluments Clause,[1] or the Incompatibility Clause,[2] or the Sinecure Clause[3]) is a provision in Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution[4] that makes each incumbent member of Congress ineligible to hold an office established by the federal government during their tenure in Congress; it also bars officials in the federal government's  executive and judicial branches from simultaneously serving in either the U.S. House or Senate. The purpose of the clause is twofold: first, to protect the separation of powers philosophy (upon which the federal frame of government is built); and second, to prevent Congress from conspiring to create offices or increase federal officials' salaries with the expectation that members of Congress would later be appointed to these posts.[5][6]



Old Post Office

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ Source

The Old Post Office has been a Trump International Hotel since 2016 under a lease agreement between Donald Trump and the federal government. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Old Post Office and Clock Tower and located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., was begun in 1892, completed in 1899, and is a contributing property to the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site.[1] It was used as the city's main General Post Office until 1914 at the beginning of World War I, succeeding an earlier 1839 edifice, G.P.O. of Classical Revival style, expanded in 1866 on F Street, which later was turned over to the Tariff Commission and several other agencies (today, the Hotel Monaco). The Pennsylvania Avenue 1899 landmark structure functioned primarily as an federal office building afterward, and was nearly torn down during the construction of the surrounding Federal Triangle complex in the 1920s. It was again threatened and nearly demolished in the 1970s to make way for proposals for the completion of the enveloping Federal Triangle complex of similar Beaux Arts styled architecture government offices, first begun in the 1920s and 30s.

Lease to The Trump Organization

On February 6, 2012, GSA announced that it had chosen The Trump Organization as the potential redeveloper of the Old Post Office Building. The company partnered with Colony Capital, a private equity firm, in its bid. The Trump Organization bid pledged to spend $200 million to turn the structure into a 250-room[102] (later sources said 261-room)[116] luxury hotel. Much of the investment would be in cash, not debt.[116] The hotel would include a conference center,[102] spa,[102] three high-end restaurants,[116] and a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) meeting and banquet facility.[116] The company also pledged to create a small museum dedicated to the history of the building and the Bells of Congress,[116] and to maintain the historic exterior.[102] The Trump Organization also tentatively agreed to pay GSA $3 million a year in rent.[117]

Legal challenges associated with Trump's presidency

After Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States, the Trump International Hotel became the focus of legal controversy.[164] World leaders stated Trump was encouraging emissaries to stay at Trump hotels while visiting.[165] Trump family members, such as Ivanka, have profited from their stake in the hotel while Donald Trump has been president.[166] ~ Emoluments Clause lawsuits

Political protests

During the presidency of Donald Trump, the Old Post Office has become a frequent location of political protests. During the evening of May 15, 2017, artist Robin Bell projected messages onto the hotel's facade that stated, among other things, "Emoluments Welcome," along with an animation of the flags of nations in which Trump had business projects.[178] On January 13, 2018, after Trump reportedly used the word "shithole" at a meeting, Bell projected onto the facade the message "Not a D.C. resident?" / "Need a place to stay?" / "Try our shithole".[179] Following the March for Our Lives anti-gun violence rally on March 24, 2018, many rally-goers left their signs by the hotel.[180][181]



Science Faction

43+ years ago an anonymous cassette tape was
shoved through my mail slot and is worth a Listen.



Ten Steps To Close Down
An Open Society ~ 12/31/1969

by Naomi Wolf, Updated: 05/25/2011, Article Source
[Ed. Note: Try name substitution when reading.]

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda has noted, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."

Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.

It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2 Create a gulag

Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.

At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.

This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.

Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.

But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3 Develop a thug caste

When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".

4 Set up an internal surveillance system

In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5 Harass citizens' groups

The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.

Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.

6 Engage in arbitrary detention and release

This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.

In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".

"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.

"I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."

"That'll do it," the man said.

Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.

James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.

Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.

It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.

7 Target key individuals

Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.

Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.

Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.

Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8 Control the press

Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.

Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.

Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.

Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.

You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9 Dissent equals treason

Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.

Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.

In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".

And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.

Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)

We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.

Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10 Suspend the rule of law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.

Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."

Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.

Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".

What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.

What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.

Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.

We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

From "The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot," Chelsea Green Publishing, Sept 2007

Why is this important?
Mr. Hitler, like some folks, thought
he was doing the world a favor, too
.




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