Watching UK parliament in action is not something I do very often because I find the levels of cognitive dissonance too great to tolerate, but there are exceptions and yesterday was one.
During the debate, an MP from the government benches made an allegation, repeated several times, that some of the disability activists who has been trying (repeatedly) to meet the Government to discuss the impact of cuts were ‘extremists’. The reason, apparently, is due to the fact that these ‘extremists’ refuse to accept that government changes to their personal situation are ‘constructive’. I’m not going to go into detail about this because the subject has been covered by other ‘extremists’ more knowledgeable than me.
No doubt, analysis of the detail of the debate will occur but I want to look at the ‘psychic effect’ this statement – this is not a blue-print for the ‘correct’ response, this blog is about the impact the extremist ‘meme’ has upon me personally. I am directly affected by what occurred yesterday and, despite all my training, knowledge and acquired wisdom, this ‘meme’ still had the impact of ‘internal destruction’ that, I suppose, it was meant to have.
The government’s ‘spin’ on their refusal to reveal the facts of their welfare reform is very telling and fits with observations I have made in the past. Nevertheless, within the social structures I dwell within, they have ‘social power’ and I, apparently, do not. The attitude and demeanour of those very few government MP’s who actually made the effort to turn up for the debate made it very clear how they viewed the folk they were debating; comply with our view or be excluded from any and all discussions on the grounds that we are extremists. Basically, this seems to include anyone who disagrees with current UK policy – no matter how lethal, harmful or damaging to those on the receiving end. Pain, suffering and death are not things the present British government need to worry itself about because it holds to the certainty of its own ‘righteousness’ – anyone who disagrees or protests becomes an ‘infidel’ to be condemned, rejected and ignored.
This reminds me of all those criticisms leveled at all those folk who meekly filed into the gas chambers of the Third Reich. Why didn’t they fight back or protest, goes the narrative of post-apocalyptic studies? Well, if we consider the dynamic that occurred yesterday, the answer is fairly easy to find – they had been bombarded with the kinds of messages delivered to the sick and disabled of Britain by their own unelected government.
It really gets me down when I am coerced into accepting views that are based upon prejudice rather than fact, particularly when those views are espoused by those who have ‘control’ over my personal circumstances. It gets me down because I have been around this dynamic for most of my life. It could be argued that this ‘meme’ or ‘irritant’ has been a stimulus for my own growth and development – I would not disagree with this. Experiences of closed-mindedness has prompted me to explore it in very great depth. My problem is that although I have learned a great deal, many more have not and continue to perpetuate such ugly ideas to this very day.
The ‘Extremist’ ‘meme’ is a cluster-bomb of the psyche because attached to the word are ideas, experiences and histories that explode into my internal experience with the same devastating effect. It’s a word that, in recent times, has been used by government after government – particularly since 9/11 – to justify the most appalling atrocities against their civilians. The meme refuses to differentiate between justified objections to abuse and cruelty inflicted on innocent others and encourages those who oppose it to become as reactionary and close-minded as their oppressors. It assumes a righteousness to the opinions of those in power that, when examined under the cold light of evidential fact-finding, can be proven to be flawed at best and downright prejudiced at worst. In the case of the British government versus their sick, disabled and vulnerable citizens, the arguments for seeing government policies as prejudiced gain ground every day, not because opponents and protestors are ‘righteous’ as such but because their protests are validated by facts and evidence.
This government ‘meme’ about folk like me seems to act like a cancer-cell within my psyche. It reproduces itself very quickly, invading and colonizing much of the hard-earned lessons of my life, reducing me to a state of ‘No-Worth’. According to the label ‘extremist’, I can never be trusted to tell the truth, no matter how much evidence; how many facts; or, even, how many predictable deaths weigh in to validate my viewpoint. The meme is not interested in facts – it’s interested in reproducing itself as fast as possible until nothing remains of those who might remove it. This meme is intent on ruling everything and everyone and destroying anything that does not accord with its distorted and corrupted world view.
As far as I can tell, the message it seeks to impart to extremists like me is that I am not only mistaken, I am so ‘wrong’ I am not even worthy of existence. It feeds my suicidal ideation; bolsters hopelessness and despair; and ultimately makes suicide/self-destruction personally attractive. I start asking myself “What’s the point? Give these death-dealing ideas what they want!” whilst I reexamine my suicidal methodology for effectiveness – what do I need to do to die?
I have powerful feelings and opinions about those who promulgate such memes which, no doubt, are the extremist views being complained about. It appears I can no longer demand that they back up their claims with fact because yesterday’s debate makes it quite plain that no such facts will be forthcoming. Prejudice against those who think differently is regarded as entirely justified, not requiring explanation or examination, up to and including eugenics, mass-incarceration, slavery and mass-murder. It’s a very poisonous seed designed to destroy everything that it is not and my response, at the very thought to being required to live under such circumstances, prompts me to self-destruct rather than comply. I suppose that is an extreme response to a government notion of who I am, but the meme itself is a far more perniciously destructive idea than anything I could ever dream up. My destructive impulse is turned upon myself – the death-toll of this meme in my reality will be 1 person; me. However, this meme is actually being used by those who turn it’s destructive power on others and who are refusing to even gather the information which shows how effective it is.
So my question is this: who, exactly, is the ‘extremist’ here?
In those psyches who refuse ‘personal growth’; who refuse to countenance facts that ‘upset’ their world view; who cling to old ideas and reject the new; there exists a psychological phenomenon called ‘projection’.
Psychological projection was conceptualized by Sigmund Freud in the 1890s as a defence mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world.
Although rooted in early developmental stages, and classed by Vaillant as an immature defence, the projection of one’s negative qualities onto others on a small scale is nevertheless a common process in everyday life.
Jung writes that “All projections provoke counter-projection when the object is unconscious of the quality projected upon it by the subject.” Thus what is unconscious in the recipient will be projected back onto the projector, precipitating a form of mutual acting out.
Carl Jung considered that the unacceptable parts of the personality represented by the Shadow archetype were particularly likely to give rise to projection, both small-scale and on a national/international basis.
Projections – of the ‘extremist’ variety – occur when we refuse to engage with our fears of others; when we decide our perceptions are ‘right’ whilst refusing to explore the evidence that we might be wrong. What we project has little to do with the individuals (in this case) we are forcing our beliefs upon – there will be something ‘true’ in the projection to create the dynamic – but the subsequent beliefs extrapolated from this first ‘truth’ are all about us. We have cut ourselves off from our own ‘shadow’ – all those aspects of Self we disapprove of or reject – and project these qualities onto others.
So what was Paul Maynard MP* talking about when he justified government refusals to meet disability campaigners like Spartacus and Pat’s Petition by accusing them of being extremists? He claimed they weren’t ‘constructive’ – that they refused to consider the ‘good’ aspects of government welfare changes. Could someone please explain to me how my suicidal ideation – triggered by yesterday’s events – is to be regarded as constructive? How is removing – at great speed – everything my society has determined I need for basic survival (like food, warmth and a roof over my head) for the last 65 years (longer than my own 58 year lifetime) to be considered constructive? And how does a complete refusal to countenance the real-life consequences of those affected by these changes render me an extremist?
I ask these questions for a reason. I need a reality check. I do not assume that my views are accurate. For this to be ‘true’ the evidence needs to be weighed by less-involved minds than my own. All I have is my response: a desire to die and not have to dwell in this small-minded, cruel and abusive environment where my very being is considered a negative.
Yes, I know I can ‘get over’ it but, frankly, why should I want to? I’ve been ‘getting over’ these notions all my life and, now, I am not well, I’m hurting and very very tired of this. I’m sick to the back teeth of having to justify my existence to those who believe they can ‘order’ Life itself and I find it increasingly difficult not to fall into the trap of playing into the projection.
This is my personal response. I share it with those in similar situations for the purpose of swapping notes – perhaps others feel the same way I do but I won’t know until I ask.
And to all those who want me to ‘buck up’ and get back into the fray? I won’t deny my feelings and I’m not going to collude with your demand that I do so because it’s the same kind of ‘instruction’ issued by those who define me as extremist. I may have extreme thoughts and feelings in response to such a projection upon me – shutting them away just renders me more liable to act on them when the time is right. At least, in the moment, I’m talking about it and not doing it.
You’re going to have to settle for that for now!
* I originally attributed the ‘Extremists’ quote to MP, Philip Hammond. I apologise unreservedly to Mr. Hammond for my mistake; thank Fibromites for bringing it to my attention (see comments below). The comment was made by Paul Maynard MP.
And thank you, Creator Spirit, for enabling me to prove my genuine imperfections 😉