Monday, June 13, 2005

Modern Primitives

Someguy from Mystery Achievement has an amazing post today, excerpting a portion of an article by Psychologist Dr. Robert Godwin, who analyzes Islam based upon a premise that mankind is on a course of psychological evolution akin to the physical evolution described in Darwin's theory. Dr. Godwin believes that the religion of Islam actually negates the force of evolution and creates a culture in which little progress is achievable.

Never before have I seen such a blitzkrieg destruction of an ideology as that which Godwin puts forth here. He leaves no stone unturned. Here's just a litte bit of the Mystery Achievement portion of the excerpt:

It is a natural mistake to assume that radical Islam is opposed to the West only in terms of some definable thing that we are doing, such as "defiling the holy soil" of Saudi Arabia with our armed forces. Rather, what we are again primarily dealing with is a clash of psychoclasses, in which the fundamentalists object to the very form of our thought - a form of thought that makes possible such things as democracy (because it values individuation from coercive group fantasies), formal operations, scientific thinking rational economic development, equality of the sexes, and modernity itself.
In short, it is a battle between the cognitive/ emotional past and present of the human species, no different than if we had somehow entered a time warp and were fighting the barbarian hordes of Genghis Khan. The problem is that the West, in developing beyond the childish mythological stage, has in fact discovered a universal, scientific epistemology that, because it is universal, contradicts the particular mythology of any group, not just Muslims.
As expressed by Gress, this universal way of knowing must be employed if one wishes "to know, make, or do. For example, the airplane did not fly because its pilot was Christian, Muslim, Confucian, or any other faith, but because of the science of aerodynamics."But this very universality is an affront to the fundamentalists, because it is a disturbing reminder that all knowledge and truth have not been revealed in the Koran.
Yet, the terrorists seem to be untroubled by the fact that they cannot create, only parasitize the know-how of others. As put by V. S. Naipaul, there is almost a comic inability of the fundamentalists to come to grips with their confused ambivalence toward the West, a "civilization that couldn't be mastered. It was to be rejected; at the same time it was to be depended on."
Even when logical, formal operations thinking is employed by the terrorists, it is in the service of perverse paranoid-schizoid envy and sadism, so that they have no interest in designing planes, only crashing them; building magnificent skyscrapers, only destroying them; curing disease, only spreading it.
The very real problem we are facing is an adversary with a dangerous combination of primitive psychological development but access to sophisticated weapons and technology that their level of cognitive integration could never have produced on its own. If it could have, the human race would have been extinguished several thousand years ago by barbarians with weapons of mass destruction.

Dr. Godwin then goes on to diagnose Islamic culture with a kind of narcissistic personoality disorder which he says leads to a primitivist anti-Semitism:

Since the events of September 11, we have all become aware of the paranoid anti-Semitism so central to the Middle Fast world view, where it is widely believed that the Israeli Mossad crashed the planes into the World Trade Center. The father of one of the terrorists, Mohammed Atta, blamed a Jewish conspiracy, just like the mother of the prime culprit in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, who told a reporter, "this is from the Jews, who have done this and blamed my son."19

One of the hallmarks of the paranoid style is a distorted conception of the power of the fantasized enemy. At times, the enemy is seen as an omnipotent, tireless, demonically competent adversary, while at other times the same enemy is felt to be weak, decadent, and on the verge of collapse. Likewise, the image of one's own self (or country) may vary between a god­like supremacy and a terrible, childlike vulnerability, with no ability to integrate (or even notice) these contradictory images.

Thus, the fundamentalists believe that Zionism is a bloodthirsty, expansionist conspiracy bent on world domination. For example, the cartoon-like charter of the PLO reads that Zionism is a "constant source of threat" to the entire world, "racist and fanatic in its nature, aggressive, expansionist and colonial in its aims, and fascist in its methods," "strategically placed" to combat Arab liberation and progress. During a recent weekly televised sermon, a Palestinian cleric taught that among the evil deeds of the Jews was the Holocaust itself, which was "planned by the Jews' leaders, and was part of their policy."25

Similarly, the charter of Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group, informs us that wealthy Zionists have taken over "control of the world media . . . they stood behind World War I. . . . They also stood behind World War II . . . They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council . . . in order to rule the world by their intermediary"21 and "liquidate Islam."
But at the same time, Jews are seen as corrupt, feeble and morally weak. For example, an Egyptian high school textbook noted that Israel "shall wither and decline. Even If all the human race, and the devil in Hell, conspire to aid her, she shall not exist."22

Either way, "these charges against the Jews so exceed the plausible, they point not to a way of dealing with the world as it is, but to a mental condition; not to an objective set of conditions but to an imaginary construct. "23 In fact, one of the very real problems that prevents development (both psychological and economic) in the Middle East is the preoccupation with hatred toward the Jews. Instead of engaging with reality over the past fifty years, the Arab world has had "more pressing things to do - first of all, to defeat Israel Prosperity could follow."54

The fundamentalists hold the same type of contradictory attitudes toward themselves -- on the one hand, like bin Laden, believing in the superiority of a unified Islamic nation destined, with the aid of Allah, to triumph everywhere and impose its will on the rest of the world. This brittle, completely unrealistic "cultural narcissism" is undoubtedly rooted in the type of childrearing discussed by deMause, in which all boys are inculcated with an unearned superiority over girls.
Because this spurious gender superiority is sanctioned by holy writ 25 rather than reality, it creates a weak and unstable narcissistic self-regard that is easily bruised and injured. Thus, according to Pipes, "Fundamentalist Muslims tend to see Islam as a fragile growth easily imperiled by the acts of its enemies."
Just like an individual with a narcissistic personality, the same narcissism that makes Islam regard itself as so special and superior also makes it believe that it is the number one target of envious conspirators. The Ayatollah Khomeini, for example, saw women's suffrage as a Jewish plot "to corrupt our chaste women," and was so threatened by an obscure novel that he ordered its author be assassinated in order to protect Islam.

Just recently, it was widely believed throughout the Arab world that Pokemon cards were part of a Jewish conspiracy to corrupt Muslim youth, and that Jews had come up with a "special formula" for AIDS, with which Israeli women could infect Egyptian men without harming themselves.26

The story of the Pokemon cards is reminiscent of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, where a Coca Cola bottle falling out of the sky is viewed as a sign of some conspiratorial power from beyond. In the case of the movie, the power was benevolent. The truth of the Primitive view of life is that they rarely experience the world as benevolent. Instead their world view is driven by fear of the unseen forces lying around the next corner. Yeah, the Jews must be crazy, huh? Well, whoever created Pokemon cards was, that's for sure.