Grief, rage, action:
It seems to me that, once security is accomplished, there are three great motivators for humans: love, status and conformity.  I say this on no authority other than my own chance experience.  If you think otherwise, no problem.  In fact what I shall write here is wholly optional, just my own musings.  Of course you are more than welcome to muse as you will.

Loss is to be expected in life.  That is observable, and from my own cosmological thinking, predictable.  Loss elicits grief, and grief in healthy form undergoes four stages.  This time I cite as authority dimly recollected instruction in psychiatry at Harvard Med. The stages are disbelief, bargaining, anger and balance.  Since my nerves are shot from long acquaintance with horror and despair, let’s go with a trifling loss.  You reach for your drink and accidentally knock your tumbler off the table.  Disbelief: “That really didn’t happen.”  Bargaining: “Maybe it will be ok if I catch it with the top of my foot.”  Anger because the bargaining doesn’t work: “Drat.”  Balance: “I’ll clean up the mess, get another tumbler and fill it.”    

Much of what has gone on in America in recent decades follows from this, along with the underlying biology, of course.  It appears that conservatives – real conservatives, not the more recent sort – tend to be love driven.  I recall America shortly after WW II.  It was rather nice.  We could bid defiance to the world.  The Japanese Admiral Yamamoto has been quoted – probably apocryphally – as having said invading America was out of the question.  So many of our citizens were armed and expert marksmen that there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.  I don’t think his contemporary Japanese had any idea just how much grass that was.  Russia was supposedly a danger, but in practical terms her “weapons of mass destruction” were always as mythical as those of Saddam Hussein.  The vast bulk of this country was middle class.  The economy was strong.  People were friendly, at least in the South.  The culture was sufficiently uniform so we all felt quite comfortable together.  Conservatives warmed right up to it all.

Now there are those who will insists that I am unrealistically glossing over race inequality.  I can tell you it existed.  I can also tell you some other things we were told.  (In those halcyon days we tended to hear the same message on all hands.  Yes, Black incomes were lower than White.  Typically, the rich men in town (yes, we were rather sexist, and still are) were usually White doctors with an income around twenty thousand dollars a year.  The poor tended to be Black workers, who worked very hard to earn, say, seventy five cents an hour or fifteen hundred dollars a year. But a Black woman would often work for a White household, generally once a week in any one home but work in a different home each day.  My own parents obeyed the law; I’m sure many paid less than minimum wage.  So given the income of both breadwinners (few White women worked outside the home) call it two thousand compared to twenty thousand.  There was a graduated income tax with teeth.  The range of incomes was not nearly so great as it is today.  (Remember this is hearsay; string me not up for what I was told.) 

Of course the gap needed to be closed, but there seemed at the time to be no great hurry.  Black people were happy, or so we thought.  My grandmother used to go downtown Columbia and take a walk just to listen to them laugh; she called it a “black bath.”  If that was forced laughter, she was totally taken in. 

Then there is the education thing.  There were more Black people in America with a college education than there were Englishmen in England with a college education, and there were of course a lot more Englishmen.  Oh yes, we conceded that an English degree carried more prestige, but the way forward seemed to be improving the quality of our education, not browbeating more Black people into seeking an education. 

There were opportunities.  In Florida there were dozens of banks with a Black president; last time I heard there were none.  The richest man in our town was a Black man.  He sponsored the best or second best little league team (with the sharpest uniforms).  He owned an office supply store that was quite frankly the most impressive store in town. 

When I hear people muttering about reparations for slavery I think what we really need is reparation for what the liberals did.  Compare it to the way Native Americans were treated.  Now that’s sheer horror.  We weren’t perfect.  Maybe we weren’t even good.  But we loved our lives.

Enter the liberals.  Out of the clear blue the Supreme Court had an epiphany and announced that you could not have separate school systems for Blacks and Whites.  You had to have a national society.  My German is rusty, but I think National Socialism is written Nazi.  We had a Nazi coup.  And it was backed up with storm troopers, although when Norman Rockwell, ever the friend of the American image, illustrated it he chose an occasion with civilian heavies. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a liberal.  I say we end world hunger.  It would be easy.  Give everybody cash.  It would be cheap with cell phones in existence.  Means test it, and it becomes impossible.  Money will buy you food.  Of course the money would all go to the super rich in the end, but it would do a lot of good on the way.  And I am a pacifist.  Every shot fired by a military is an admission of defeat.  The point of a military is defense.  If you have a decent one, you should never have to put it into action. 

So the conservatives lost a world they loved.  They were stunned; then they looked for a way out.  They got angry and then seeing the futility went on with their lives. 

Meanwhile the liberals reveled in power.  Since they seemed to be the future the conformist in everybody drew people in droves.  Even now they, we, have not hit the high water mark.  There continue to be things to destroy. 

No, I can’t excuse everything about liberals any more than I can commend everything conservatives have liked.  Liberals like power, and by golly they’ve got it. 

But now enter the grisly hand of biology.  It has been proven, I have cited the work of Bateson elsewhere, that at least with Japanese quail, they prefer to mate for cousin love.  But status seeking liberals of course marry for status, generally non-cousins, and suffer a fertility decline.  It’s pretty clear that this strategy is a long term disaster.  The liberals are dying out.  Ok, we’re all dying out for the same reason, but the liberals are going first.  The odor of rotting flesh, their own rotting flesh, stifles their nostrils.  Of course they double down on their doomed agenda, but there is not question in my mind that they have had a loss.  We have elected a populist president, and the liberals have no message to offer except that they hate him.  At first they questioned the election; that’s the disbelief phase.  They are now well embarked on the rage train. 

Of course the conservative can match them, snarl for snarl.

Go back to medical school and listen again.  The stages of normal grief are known.  (All right.  I can only assume the analysis is based on a lot of experience, not on controlled studies.)  What comes into your office is likely to be a person with anxiety.  Your patient has hung up on the rage stage and is frightened at what antisocial acts he or she might get up to.  In the old days, there would be a series of interviews getting back to the anger, to the grief before that and seeking to come to terms with the grief; nowadays we just give them a pill.

But that anxiety, real and painful though it is, is not a hundred percent reliable.  The rage can break out into anti-social behavior.  I suspect we are seeing that. 

There has just been a rage incident in Las Vegas.  I hope to put together a note about it some day soon. 

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