A brief note before I start: The right has a habit of finding significant trends and memes and then overusing or distorting the meaning of terms in order to desensitize populations that might be getting a clue. I suspect this is going to happen with the term narcissism. Once it starts to make an impact and the general population to see connections, expect the right wing to start conflating, confusing and overusing. It’s what they do. We might assume that we’ve hit a nerve when it happens.
Anne Manne is an Australian author who recently gave a talk on the predominance of narcissism in the most unequal cultures. (See video below) This is a pretty good talk and gives some insight into how narcissistic, low empathy cultures are created, and asks whether those cultures can right themselves before the effects of climate change become irreversible.
We can’t rule out the role of helicopter parenting styles in the epidemic of narcissism. Both of my kids grew up in an era when children were neither seen nor heard on the streets of our ultra safe New Jersey suburb, though I think it was worse for my younger daughter. Every kid is scheduled to within an inch of their lives in career enhancing activities and competitive sports. See Freerangekids for more horror stories about our warped American childhoods and how the culture of “stranger danger” has kept children from exploring their environments, making new friends and, probably, prevented them from developing empathy for people who are not like themselves. Thank you, Fox News.
She briefly touches on religious and malignant narcissism at the very end of this video when referring to ISIS and says something very insightful about how religious narcissism works. In essence, when you claim “all good” to yourself, looking down on non-believers as undeserving, the result is the dehumanization of others who do not share your belief. When that happens, it’s much easier to behead others. I am immediately reminded of end-times religions that claim that non-believers will be annihilated at the second coming. And these religions make it quite clear that it doesn’t matter how “good” a non-believer is because “good deeds” do not count. They are saved by grace alone and that requires surrendering reasoning to pure, unquestioning belief.
As Tony Robinson pointed out in his documentary on The Doomsday Code, this is a dangerous trend because adherents are so caught up in the anticipation of the end times that they may exacerbate bad conditions or allow them to go unchecked. The resulting spread of inequality and evil reinforces their concept that the “system of things” is spiraling out of control and the second coming is imminent. Consequently, religious narcissists may be quite content to sacrifice the poor and disenfranchised in the name of bringing on the end. They may be even more tolerant of rising inequality because it represents another sign of the end. This is how people like Glenn Beck survive and make millions. It doesn’t take too much extrapolation to figure out that uber capitalists and corrupt political parties can take advantage of this complacency to grab more resources for themselves and permanently ensconce themselves at the top of the food chain. When the history books are written, the rise of fundamentalist eschatological Christianity is going to be a significant factor in the rise of extreme inequality.
It is also very difficult to combat because the eschatological mindset is almost impervious to reason. In this respect, fundamentalist eschatological christianity is similar to ISIS. It has no empathy for the feelings of people unlike itself.
Manne also briefly mentions that Joseph Stiglitz visited Australia recently (maybe it’s this video?) and warned it to not to import American values especially with respect to privatization and capitalism. Stiglitz apparently thinks we are out of control. The end timers must be peeing themselves with excitement.
Here is Manne’s talk: