Why do people feel a need to ruin a satisfactory situation? In today’s modern technological society, when a situation leads to too much contentment, that contentment does not lead to the peace that comes when one lives surrounded by organic grounding. Rather it leads to sinking into an experiential vacuum. In a traditional natural society, contentment leads to a quiet stillness which leads to a communing with nature, in which a person is stimulated to life in a situation where there is relatively little outward movement.
A satisfactory situation does not lead to a vibrant life experience in a modern technological society. If anything, it can lead to boredom and numbness. A satisfying situation in today’s world simply means that there is nothing left to do. In a more traditional natural society, a person can sink back and commune with his environment for a while without big movements, without big projects, without big goals. But in a modern technological society, one feels a need to keep moving, to keep doing, to keep changing in order to prevent the entropy in a vacuum from destroying him with numbness. Nothing can ever be totally satisfactory in today’s world if one wants to go on living. And this is why people have a need to criticize, attack and destroy the components of some fine life situations in today’s world. This is the way they generate the abrasive friction that keeps them alive.
Take, for example, the situation of Joe Biden’s presidency. Many Democrats are acting like the equivalent of cannibals, cutting up Biden’s personal traits and shredding all the great things he has done as president including all the legislation he has gotten past. And then there is the issue of his age. They paint him as a man who is doddering and feeble-minded because of his gaffes. And, of course, if he does these things now, what will he do in a potential second term as he continues to get older and older. All I can say is that I see in Biden a man who, putting aside his speech difficulties, is vibrant and energetic and who has gotten more legislation past than any president of the United States since Lyndon Johnson. Granted he has not gotten past every piece of legislation that he wanted to. But what president, or for that matter what person, gets success in every goal he has in life. Biden had to deal with the selective opposition to his plans of two conservative senators – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Nevertheless, through artful negotiation, something he had learned in all of his years in the Senate, he was able to salvage, for instance, many of the components of what became known as the Inflation Reduction Act.
So, upon looking at this, it seems that the Democrats have taken a very different path for dealing with numbness and the experiential vacuum than the Republicans. While the Republicans psychologically merge with an unpredictable abrasive human being who pulls them out of their numbness through his unpredictable abrasive actions, the Democrats seem to like to take their leaders or any other salient figures in their lives and deconstruct them through the abrasive criticism that is stimulated in them. Because they have become so reconfigured, as it were, by the sensory distortion they experience in modern technological society, they are incapable of properly absorbing those relatively few experiences of organic stimulation that do present themselves, situations like a warm embracing teddy bear of a president like Joe Biden. In a previous article, I mentioned that to many people, Biden appears to be almost formless and squishy, partly as a result of his old age. He becomes perfect fodder for people who need to have someone to break down and destroy in order to feel alive.
Now this doesn’t mean that all criticisms of Biden represent an irrational need to deconstruct him and destroy him. Certainly, his hasty disorganized withdrawal from Afghanistan seems to have been a highly questionable decision. Nevertheless, many people are using it as a vehicle for simply tearing him apart. For these people, Afghanistan becomes the only issue that is relevant for judging him. They think that because the withdrawal from Afghanistan was chaotic, anything else he may have done during his administration simply doesn’t count. It becomes like a more refined elevated game of “Gotch ya!” And when all is said and done, it becomes a means by which people can pull themselves out of their numbness by becoming a part of a mass movement to criticize Biden and to experience the abrasive stimulation of their criticism.
The good news is that in spite of all the numb members of the Democratic party, whose discontent is being constantly measured and proclaimed by pollsters, Biden is able to rise above them and to continue to function as an effective executive. The main worry is the extent to which these naysayers may impact the coming election either during the primaries or the election. For those of us of the Democratic persuasion and who like Biden, nothing could be more frustrating, than to see Biden lose, because of the irrational needs of many Democrats to tear down something that is good and, in particular, good for them.
© 2022 Laurence Mesirow