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If an alien observer not trained in our customs and way of life were to read our Constitution, come to America and view our current situation, our fine little green friend would no doubt be amazed at the spectacle.

A political party utterly without conscience, whose members do not hold power in the Executive Branch, nor yet hold power in each chamber of the Legislative Branch, and only hold a single-vote majority in the Judicial (and after the lame-duck session will hold but one of two chambers in the Legislative) has taken upon itself to hold the country at ransom.

Our alien would wonder at the spectacle of basic help for the unemployed being held hostage for deeply unpopular tax cuts for the already insanely wealthy.

And it would shake its head in disbelief that, seeing the apparent success of the previously undertaken heist, that same sociopathic political party would see fit to hold such popular initiatives as the DREAM act and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell at gunpoint so that a commonsense, widely supported treaty to assist with the world's nuclear security might yet see the light of day.

Bob Corker, speaking softly to Olivier Knox, casually says that the START treaty won’t pass if Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or the DREAM Act get a vote tomorrow.

Yes, our observer would remark at the abject nihilism and greed of this political party.  And it would remark at the transparent weakness of those who cave to such demands, curiously viewing payment of ransom as just another form of compromise.

But it would be most astounded, one might think, at the easy compliance of a populace so ill-used that they whisper scarcely a word of protest even as the pistol is held to their heads, their wallets taken, their cash distributed to those who would burn it to light their cigars, their families and children starved that their captors might eat caviar uninterrupted, their sons and daughters prevented even from serving to fight at their lords' behest for the crime of loving the wrong person, and denied the opportunity to pay off massive educational debts to the landed gentry for the crime of having been born to the wrong social caste.

Examining our encyclopedias of human behavior to explain such a situation, our curious onlooker would find only one explanation: Stockholm Syndrome.

In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, essentially mistaking a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness.  The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome. The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken  at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, and even defended them after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist  Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.  It was originally defined by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations.

Stockholm Syndrome arises during times of great stress, when those whose lives have suddenly been turned upside down find themselves in an enclosed space with but one information source, and but one source of sustenance hope for safety: the continued well-being of their captors.

And here again, our friend from beyond the moon might understand the situation clearly, were it to examine our history of the last 30 years.  All of the elements necessary for Stockholm Syndrome are fully in place.

Our society has been placed under great physical and psychological duress.  A long and arduous road to record income inequality has been exacerbated by a sudden collapse, seemingly inexplicable to all but the closest students of complex financial instruments and their consequences.  Worlds have been turned upside down, as families across our nation look for any kind of answer, from anywhere, and will latch on to any seemingly coherent explanation, regardless of its factual merit.

The media that would have provided the nation with the outside information necessary to distinguish its own well-being from that of its captors has not only failed utterly, but has in fact been nearly co-opted by the captors themselves.  When only media in autocracies half a world away bother to cover the hostage-taking and ransom of first responders on 9/11, there is clearly a closed information loop so tight, that not even a rescuer's loudspeaker can penetrate the fortress in which this nation is held prisoner.

And the final blow?  The apparent ideological victory of supply-side economics among the near entirety of the ruling class has led the nation to believe that our well-being, our own economic survival, depends entirely on the well-being and continued pampering of the Brahmins for whom we are lucky to serve as wipers and concubines, so that our children may consume the trickled-down wet crumbs they leave behind.  The rich must be granted yet more wealth, or the nation may starve as a result.  If we get any other ideas, the ruling caste will slice open the throats of our less fortunately employed brothers and sisters.

Our alien would doubtless counsel us that our only prayer lies in deliverance.  It might tell us that things are darkest before the dawn, and that captives so held can often experience psychological transformation once on the outside of their prisons, though it may take some time.

But first, we must understand our illness, and work to combat it.  We must understand the degree to which we as a nation are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, and engage in a deliberate plan to rethink and reorient.

It starts by telling the truth about our captors and their motives.  And it continues by organizing plans to truly fight them, and to find leaders unafraid to call them by the names they deserve, and to brook no compromise with them.  To deny and reject those who would counsel negotiation with the terrorists who abuse us.  This, our alien would say as it zooms back to its own world in disbelief, is the challenge that lies before us.

Originally posted to thereisnospoon (David Atkins) on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 03:20 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Agreed with every word but one... (12+ / 0-)

    .."Brahmins." That is much too polite a descriptor for what they really are.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 03:27:24 PM PST

  •  This is just so elegantly stated. (10+ / 0-)

    And, here's where I gulp:

    It starts by telling the truth about our captors and their motives.  

    I am so afraid that people are now too shut down to go there. Certainly, that has been my experience.

    Nicely done, nonethless.

  •  This is an exceptional piece of writing (9+ / 0-)

    which speaks to that nagging voice that keeps on saying, "What the hell is going here?"

    Stockholm Syndrome arises during times of great stress, when those whose lives have suddenly been turned upside down find themselves in an enclosed space with but one information source, and but one source of sustenance hope for safety: the continued well-being of their captors.

    Many of Rachel's segments are devoted to the RW agenda of creating fear and/or loathing.  It is intense on the right and has been carefully nurtured.  Often the subject of fear/loathing doesn't make sane or logical sense.

    I've concluded that the RW noise machine keeps their captives in a kind of suspended animation and when a real threat develops, it is just as easy to yell "fire" over the War on Christmas as it is on an expose of the lies and misinformation.

    The result is the same. Protect their captors.  

    May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin

    by msmacgyver on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 04:21:55 PM PST

    •  Yes, very well-written (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The psychology of so many mesmerized by Faux News is to surrender all vestiges of critical thought. This allows the deluded ones to hold contradictory beliefs. and to blindly follow the Republican talking points of the day. Oppressed and dehumanized, they seek to conform ever closer to their masters' wishes.

  •  Yep (8+ / 0-)

    Sadly, our captors include Congressional Democrats as well as the White House and the Republicans. Our political leaders have betrayed us, selling us out to the rich for over 30 years. Most of us know it, but are so far unwilling to actually say so publicly.

    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by robert cruickshank on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 04:38:06 PM PST

  •  Actually It Makes Sense Based On the Constitution (7+ / 0-)

    It'd probably take more than one diary to lay it all out, but this system of government, in our time, is profoundly dangerous because of insufficient checks to uphold the specified balances of powers, runaway rights and powers, missing rights, and more.

    One specific I used to mention relating to the Bush Admin concerns its gaping vulnerability to a criminal presidency. The reasonably effective checks the framers conceived to prevent an imperial presidency weren't copied to prevent a criminal one.

    The 1st Amendment communication freedoms, as simplistically formulated, in our time are as dangerous as extending 2nd amendment freedom to bio and nuclear weapons. They've proven invaluable when and where they've served the function the framers intended. But in a world of global giant media corporations they hand over our entire mainstream discourse, and most people's knowledge of their world, to information warlords protected to advance their own causes against the people at all costs.

    We recognize 2 rights to assert, which we extend to lying in conducting the people's discourse and business, but we recognize no right of the people to Know. Our system merely assumes that free-enough reporting and lying will naturally lead them to Know.

    There's not a single thing wrong with the country that the people are able to discuss rationally in any significant numbers, because of what's wrong with the 1st Amendment. Climate, health care, social safety net --the facts and the arguments for the nation and any region of any side are the fabrication and the property of the information warlords under our system.

    I don't see the common people as having stockholm syndrome --I'd say it's the Democratic Party leadership that's had it, since the 1980's at latest.

    Half the common people don't vote. What I hear most often from those I know who don't is that neither party improves their lot. That's not stockholm syndrome, that's logic even where it's incorrect. Many of those on the right who vote "against" their interests don't realize they're doing so. Again that's not stockholm syndrome, it's believing in their leadership when they're lying. It's being propagandized, brainwashed.

    But the party leadership are professional politicians, they spend all their time dealing with the world of power and money, they're the ones I'd tag with stockholm syndrome.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 04:39:46 PM PST

    •  Gotta agree about much (0+ / 0-)

      of the leadership of the Democratic Party. There are honorable exceptions in the House, which actually accomplished quite a bit. But the Senate? Wow. Tim Kaine's DNC? Uh oh. Chris Van Hollings' DCCC? Whoo boy. And the White House? No concept of negotiation or leadership or the fact that they have the bully pulpit. No, I guess leading wouldn't be collegial.

      Much of the party leadership seems so bought off and so bought into neoliberalism themselves that they have no idea who they're actually supposed to be representing.

      Not in the Constitution: free markets. In the Constitution: promote the general welfare.

      by psnyder on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 07:49:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's not much to wonder at at all (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mnemosyne, Pluto, msmacgyver

    No one of any significance on the national stage is bothering to make the case for anything other than what Republicans want, from the very top down. As an average citizen, it's hard to buck the top-down narrative even if you feel that what you're being sold is destructive and wrong. People need to have their reality validated in the media environment. If they don't hear it, especially not from the leaders they expect to hear it from, what can they do but doubt their own experience and beliefs.

    We live in the age of the spectacle - if it isn't validated in the media it doesn't exist. This is what Obama's most destructive failing has been - he mouths the false interpretations of reality that the Republicans tell, and then cuts his own supporters off at the knees when they try to speak up with their truth.

  •  I don't think we can discuss the condition of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mnemosyne, Sandino, tardis10, Th0rn

    Stockholm Syndrom without crediting the many and varied captors which exist.

    Religion and its incursion into politics has provided a dual captor for far too many Americans. With the threat of eternal damnation or whatever the threat du jour is, the bullies of the Religious Right collaborate with politicians to hold entire segments of the population as captives.

    I just read this article and it is more of the same but evidence of the point I'm trying to make:

    'Resisting The Green Dragon': Religious Right Attacks Environmentalism As 'Deadly' And 'Destructive' In New DVD Series

    Various conservative Christian leaders have united with the Cornwall Alliance for the release of a shocking new 12-part DVD series, "Resisting The Green Dragon," that attempts to debase and discredit the environmental movement by portraying it as "one of the greatest deceptions of our day" that is "seducing your children" and "striving to put America and the world under its destructive control."

    May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. George Carlin

    by msmacgyver on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 05:02:59 PM PST

  •  The fact that most of the stimulus in this bill (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thereisnospoon, Sandino

    consists of tax cuts only serves to reaffirm neoliberal economics. Total suck.

    Not in the Constitution: free markets. In the Constitution: promote the general welfare.

    by psnyder on Fri Dec 17, 2010 at 07:32:17 PM PST

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