Scapegoating and projection

In a Quillette article, the pseudonymous writer Lester Berg describes his bewilderment with leftist friends who attribute every personal disappointment to systemic abuse in general and Bad Orange Man in particular. I think he's describing the usefulness that makes scapegoating so popular as a political and psychological tool:
Here, at last, was somebody we could freely hate more that we hate each other or ourselves.
Isn't the same for hating the anonymous Jews who poisoned your well? Before they go completely around the bend and start shoving real individuals into gas chambers, most people find it hard to sustain that kind of venom about anyone with whom they are in personal contact. It's necessary to fix on some distant enemy who can be characterized as irretrievably evil, beyond the pale, outside all human norms of charity or civility.

If your life is awful and enough and you are too dishonest or cowardly to face what's wrong, then even if you don't have a Donald Trump in your life, it is essential to find one.  Otherwise you might have to talk to your lover, or your mother, or your boss about why you object, what price you will or won't pay to sustain the relationship, and what you're willing to do to fix it.  Sometimes we'll do anything to avoid telling someone face-to-face that we're angry and disappointed.  "I'm not mad at you!  I'm mad at Trump!"


Grim said...

I'm less disturbed by their projecting at Trump than by the similar projections on Trump supporters. "They're fascists!" What, all of them? Tens of millions of people?

Besides, what is a fascist anyway? I was under the impression that it was someone who was involved in a political program to align corporate and state power in order to enforce a 'common-good' view on all persons and organizations falling under the state's ever-expanding authority. That sounds a lot like the 'Political Correctness and Socialism' program as led by Democrats, but not very much like the 'Free Speech and Chaos' program of the Trump faction.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

If Trump Supporters did not exist we would have to invent them

james said...

Trump Supporters = The Brotherhood?

'Does the Brotherhood exist?'

'That, Winston, you will never know. If we choose to set you free when we have finished with you, and if you live to be ninety years old, still you will never learn whether the answer to that question is Yes or No. As long as you live it will be an unsolved riddle in your mind.'