Feuerbach on egoism, Abarbanel on Narcissism, and Bibi

The Politics of Narcissism – Avigail Abarbanel

“I have always believed that my profession has a lot to offer to the understanding of politics. One important contribution we can make is to highlight the relationship between narcissism, in particular Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NDP), and politics.A person has to have only five of the following DSM-IV criteria to be diagnosed with NPD. He or she: (1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance; (2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love; (3) believes that he or she is ‘special’ and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high status people (or institutions); (4) requires excessive admiration; (5) has a sense of entitlement i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations; (6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends; (7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recongise or identify with the feelings and needs of others; (8) is often envious of otherso r believes that others are envious of him or her; (9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM IV. American Psychiatric Association. P.661)

People with NPD are everywhere but can be found in particular in areas where there are visible signs of success, status and power, and where admiration can be obtained relatively easily for example: high level sports, entertainment, all branches of academia, medicine, military and law enforcement, high level corporate and public service jobs and in politics.

The emotional maturity of people with NPD is that of a 3-5 year old child. They generate chaos, confusion and fear around them. They are divisive, and are incredibly harmful (emotionally and otherwise) to anyone under their influence. The closer you are to them, the worse it is.

I have worked with many clients over the years who are children of narcissists. It’s a terrible hidden injury to have to live with. As parents, narcissists are not necessarily violent or abusive in any obvious sense. In fact they are more likely to be seen as ‘perfect’ devoted parents. They would often spend a lot of time with their chosen children pushing them to succeed in an area that they happen to value and so that they can put them on display. They might get involved in the child’s activity in some capacity, to be seen as selfless and helpful and to be admired by others as devoted parents. Ask the child of a narcissist and he or she would tell you that ‘Dad got involved but he did it for himself. It was never about me’.

I said ‘chosen children’ because if narcissists have two or more children, they will often divide them into two groups: the successful versus the unsuccessful, the bright and ‘not so bright’, those who could do well and those who ‘wouldn’t amount to anything’. Many children of narcissists live a miserable life either as sad underachievers or as successful perfectionists who never feel they are good enough. Many end up killing themselves, or living with depression or substance abuse, and no one, least of all them, understands why. When they come to therapy they don’t feel that they have a right to have problems, because their family was not only ‘normal’ but even ‘perfect’. And this is important because image is everything for narcissists, and children (and partners) learn to collude early on with the task of making the family and the narcissistic parent look good. The French film Look at Me shows a good example of a successful author who has NPD and the devastating effect he has on his daughter.

Narcissists vary in the degree of success they achieve. It depends a lot on their particular talents, their time in history, social class and other circumstances. For example, many female narcissists could not have become successful at anything much two hundred years ago, when women’s status in society was so low. Unsuccessful narcissists often spend their entire lives feeling bitter and disappointed about a world that they believe has failed to recognise their ‘specialness’, their beauty or genius. They can get quite depressed and self-tormented, feeling deprived of what they need the most, and believe they deserve: recognition and admiration. Narcissists in general tend to have a victim mentality and an unhealthy sense of entitlement. They are incapable of self-awareness and do not own up or take responsibility for their actions. Everything is always someone else’s fault.

Narcissists, particularly the successful ones, can be extremely well presented. People who are not too close to them tend to admire them but those who are unfortunate enough to live with them or work closely with them know better.

Less successful narcissists are attracted to more successful ones so that they can bask in their reflected glory. Behind the unrestrained admiration of celebrity in all varieites lies narcissism. We even have parasitical industries that feed on it and promote it, such as glossy magazines (complete with paparazzi), and certain television shows whose entire focus is on creating overnight celebrities and feeding them to an audience of narcissists.

The damage narcissists do in the work environment is aptly described by the gifted Australian psychologist John Clarke in his book Working with Monsters. NPD fits well with Clarke’s description of the ‘workplace psychopath’.

But what happens when narcissists run entire countries? What happens when their decisions and actions affect millions of people, especially considering their lack of capacity for empathy or responsibility? Imagine what would happen if you gave a small child all the armies and money they want and enough power to do whatever they want with them, and you get the idea.

Politics, as it has been practiced throughout human history, is a magnet for narcissists because it offers so many advantages: power, money, privilege of all kinds, and most of all status and admiration. Narcissistic dictators are pretty obvious but even in Western democracies, politics includes too many elements, privileges and benefits that are all too attractive to narcissists.

If like me you are infuriated, frustrated and outright worried about policies that are short-sighted, that ignore facts and evidence (e.g. Howard’s response to climate change); policies that promote divisiveness over unity and cooperation, suspicion and mistrust over compassion, and destructiveness over healing and dialogue, look for the narcissist. If you are shocked and disgusted by white collar crime or corruption, look for the narcissist. If you are puzzled by why politics has been practiced with such cynicism and lack of compassion, with such shallowness, dishonesty and nastiness, look for the narcissists.

Big egos, resistance to change, ruthlessness and dishonesty are not just the foibles of high achievers, neither are they the admirable qualities of ‘go getters’. They are the symptom of a serious pathology. It is important for the public to be able to understand and name what it sees rather than feel dismayed and puzzled by it.

Narcissistic leaders can give a whole society a narcissistic ‘flavour’ by promoting and advancing those who are like them. The most obvious signs of a narcissistic society are a strong focus on ‘grandness’, appearances and spectacles, disregard for rules and laws, and an empty confusing rhetoric at the expense of real substance. A narcissistic government would spend a lot of money and effort publicising its achievements, real or imaginary. Under narcissistic rulers reality begins to mix with fiction and real data about what is going on are covered up.

If we want to live in a compassionate, benevolent and rational society, based on dialogue and inclusiveness rather than fear and divisiveness, and if we want to have a long-term view of problem-solving we must ensure that we never again elect narcissistic leaders. A good way to prevent narcissists from being attracted to politics in the first place, is to reform the way politics is done. A humbler political system that only offers to politicians what they really need in order to do their job, that is caring, transparent and truly accountable and that is run in the true spirit of service to the people, is unlikely to attract narcissists because they will not find in it the commodities they so covet.

What if the creed, the mental architecture, the mythos of an entire people is one of egoism?  Feuerbach argues that Hebrew scriptures worship the ego:

Feuerbach, Essence of Christianity: PART I, The True or Anthropological Essence of Religion

Chapter XI. The Significance of the Creation in Judaism

THE doctrine of the Creation sprang out of Judaism; indeed, it is the characteristic, the fundamental doctrine of the Jewish religion. The principle which lies at its foundation is, however, not so much the principle of subjectivity as of egoism. The doctrine of the Creation in its characteristic significance arises only on that stand-point where man in practice makes Nature merely the servant of his will and needs, and hence in thought also degrades it to a mere machine, a product of the will. Now its existence is intelligible to him, since he explains and interprets it out of himself, in accordance with his own feelings and notions. The question, Whence is Nature or the world? presupposes wonder that it exists, or the question, Why does it exist? But this wonder, this question, arises only where man has separated himself from Nature and made it a mere object of will. The author of the Book of Wisdom says truly of the heathens, that, “for admiration of the beauty of the world they did not raise themselves to the idea of the Creator.” To him who feels that Nature is lovely, it appears an end in itself, it has the around of its existence in itself in him the question, Why does it exist? does not arise. Nature and God are identified in his consciousness, his perception, of the world. Nature, as it impresses his senses, has indeed had an origin, has been produced, but not created in the religious sense, is not an arbitrary product. And by this origin he implies nothing evil; originating involves for him nothing impure, un-divine; he conceives his gods themselves as having had an origin. The generative force is to him the primal force: he posits, therefore, as the ground of Nature, a force of Nature, – a real, present, visibly active force, as the ground of reality. Thus does man think where his relation to the world is “thetic or theoretic (for the theoretic view was originally the aesthetic view, the prima philosophia), where the idea of the world is to him the idea of the cosmos. of majesty, of deity itself. Only where such a theory was the fundamental principle could there be conceived and expressed such a thought as that of Anaxagoras: – Man is born to behold the world. [In Diogenes (L. 1. ii. c. iii. § 6), it is literally, “for the contemplation of the sun, the moon and the heavens.” Similar ideas were held by other philosophers. Thus the Stoics also said: – “Ipse autem homo ortus est ad mundum contemplandum et imitandum.” – Cic. (de Nat.).]

The standpoint of theory is the standpoint of harmony with the world. The subjective activity, that in which man contents himself, allows himself free play, is here the sensuous imagination alone. Satisfied with this, he lets Nature subsist in peace, and constructs his castles in the air, his poetical cosmogonies, only out of natural materials. When, on the contrary, man places himself only on the practical standpoint and looks at the world from thence, making the practical standpoint the theoretical one also, he is in disunion with Nature; he makes Nature the abject vassal of his selfish interest, of his practical egoism. The theoretic expression of this egoistical, practical view, according to which Nature is in itself nothing,, is this: Nature or the world is made, created, the product of a command.

God said, Let the world be, and straightway the world presented itself at his bidding.

Utilism is the essential theory of Judaism. The belief in a special Divine Providence is the characteristic belief of Judaism; belief in Providence is belief in miracle; but belief in miracle exists where Nature is regarded only as an object of arbitrariness, of egoism, which uses Nature only as an instrument of its own will and pleasure. Water divides or rolls itself together like a firm mass, dust is changed into lice, a staff into a serpent, rivers into blood, a rock into a fountain; in the same place it is both light and dark at once, the sun now stands still, now goes backward. And all these contradictions of Nature happen for the welfare of Israel, purely at the command of Jehovah, who troubles himself about nothing but Israel, who is nothing but the personified selfishness of the Israelitish people, to the exclusion of all other nations, – absolute intolerance, the secret essence of monotheism.

The Greeks looked at Nature with the theoretic sense; they heard heavenly music in the harmonious course of the stars; they saw Nature rise from the foam of the all-producing ocean as Venus Anadyomene. The lsraelites, on the contrary, opened to Nature only the gastric sense; their taste for Nature lay only in the palate; their consciousness of God in eating manna. The Greek addicted himself to polite studies, to the fine arts, to philosophy; the Israelite did not rise above the alimentary view of theology. “At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.” And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God.” Eating is the most solemn act or the initiation of the Jewish religion. In eating, the Israelite celebrates and renews the act of creation; in eating man declares Nature to be an insignificant object. When the seventy elders ascended the mountain with Moses, “they saw God; and when they had seen God, they ate and drank.” Thus with them what the sight of the Supreme Being, heightened was the appetite for food.

The Jews have maintained their peculiarity to this day. Their principle, their God, is the most practical principle in the world, – namely, egoism; and moreover egoism in the form of religion. Egoism is the God who will not let his servants come to shame. Egoism is essentially monotheistic, for it has only one, only self, as its end. Egoism strengthens cohesion, concentrates man on himself, gives him a consistent principle of life; but it makes him theoretically narrow, because indifferent to all which does not relate to the wellbeing of self. Hence science, like art, arises only out of polytheism, for polytheism is the frank, open, unenvying sense of all that is beautiful and good without distinction, the sense of the world, of the universe.

The Greeks looked abroad into the wide world that they might extend their sphere of vision; the Jews to this day pray with their faces turned towards Jerusalem. In the Israelites, monotheistic egoism excluded the free theoretic tendency. Solomon, it is true, surpassed “all the children of the East” in understanding and wisdom, and spoke (treated, agebat) moreover “of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall,” and also of “beasts and of fowl, and of creeping things and of fishes” (i Kings iv. 30, 34). But it must be added that Solomon did not serve Jehovah with his whole heart; he did homage to strange cods and strange women; and thus lie had the polytheistic sentiment and taste. The polytheistic sentiment, I repeat, is the foundation of science and art.

The significance which Nature in general had for the Hebrews is one with their idea of its origin. The mode in which the genesis of a thing is explained is the candid expression of opinion, of sentiment respecting it. If it be thought meanly of, so also is its origin. Men used to suppose that insects, vermin, sprang from carrion and other rubbish. It was not because they derived vermin from so uninviting a source that they thought contemptuously of them, but, on the contrary, because they thought thus, because the nature of vermin appeared to them so vile, they imagined an origin corresponding to this nature, a vile origin.

To the Jews Nature was a mere means towards achieving the end of egoism, a mere object of will.

But the ideal, the idol of the egoistic will is that Will which has unlimited command, which requires no means in order to attain its end, to realise its object, which immediately by itself, i.e., by pure will, calls into existence whatever it pleases. It pains the egoist that the satisfaction of his wishes and need is only to be attained immediately, that for him there is a chasm between the Wish and its realisation, between the object in the imagination and the object in reality. Hence, in order to relieve this pain, to make himself free from the limits of reality, he supposes as the true, the highest being,, One who brings forth an object by the mere I will. For this reason, Nature, the world, was to the Hebrews the product of a dictatorial word, of a categorical imperative, of a manic flat.

To that which has no essential existence for me in theory I assign no theoretic, no positive ground. By referring it to Will I only enforce its theoretic nullity. What we despise we do not honour with a glance: that which is observed has importance: contemplation is respect. Whatever is looked at fetters by secret forces of attraction, overpowers by the spell which it exercises upon the eye, the criminal arrogance of that Will which seeks only to subject all things to itself. Whatever makes an impression on the theoretic sense, on the reason, withdraws itself from the dominion of the egoistic Will: it reacts, it presents resistance. That which devastating egoism devotes to death, benignant theory restores to life.

The much-belied doctrine of the heathen philosophers concerning, the eternity of matter, or the world, thus implies nothing more than that Nature was to them a theoretic reality. [It is well known, however, that their opinions on this point were various. (See e.g. Aristoteles de Coelo, 1. i. c. 10.) But their difference is a subordinate one, since the creative agency itself is with them a more or less cosmical being.] The heathens were idolaters, that is, they contemplated Nature; they did nothing, else than what the profoundly Christian nations do at this day when they make Nature an object of their admiration, of their indefatigable investigation. “But the heathens actually worshipped natural objects.” Certainly; for worship is only the childish, the religious form of contemplation. Contemplation and worship are not essentially distinguished. That which I contemplate I humble myself before, I consecrate to it my noblest possession, my heart, my intelligence, as an offering. The natural philosopher also falls on his knees before Nature when, at the risk of his life, he snatches from some precipice a lichen, an insect, or a stone, to glorify it in the light of contemplation, and give it an eternal existence in the memory of scientific humanity. The study of Nature is the worship of Nature – idolatry in the sense of the Israelitish and Christian God; and idolatry is simply man’s primitive contemplation of Nature; for religion is nothing else than man’s primitive, and therefore childish, popular, but prejudiced, unemancipated consciousness of himself and of Nature. The Hebrews, on the other hand, raised themselves from the worship of idols to the worship of God, from the creature to the Creator; i.e., they raised themselves from the theoretic view of Nature, which fascinated the idolaters, to the purely practical view which subjects Nature only to the ends of egoism. “And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldst be driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord thy God bath divided unto (i.e., bestowed upon, largitus est) all nations under the whole heaven.” Thus the creation out of nothing, i.e., the creation as a purely imperious act, had its origin only in the unfathomable depth of Hebrew egoism.

On this ground, also, the creation out of nothing is no object of philosophy; – at least in any other way than it is so here – for it cuts away the root of all true speculation, presents no grappling-point to thought, to theory; theoretically considered, it is a baseless air-built doctrine, which originated solely in the need to give a warrant to utilism, to egoism, which contains and expresses nothing bait the command to make Nature – not an object Of thought, of contemplation, but – an object of utilisation. The more empty it is, however, for natural philosophy, the more profound is its “speculative” significance; for just because it has no theoretic fulcrum, it allows to the speculatist infinite room for the play of arbitrary, Groundless interpretation.

It is in the history of dogma and speculation as in the history of states. World-old usages, laws, and institutions continue to drag out their existence long after they have lost their true meaning. What lies once existed will not be denied the right to exist for ever; what was once good, claims to be good for all times. At this period of superannuation come the interpreters, the speculatists, and talk of the profound sense, because they no longer know the true one.

[But of course they only do this in the case of the “absolute religion” for with regard to other religions they hold up the ideas and customs which are foreign to us, and of which we do riot know the original meaning and purpose, as senseless and ludicrous. And yet, in fact, to worship tile urine of cows, which the Parsecs and Hindus drink that they may obtain forgiveness of sins, is not more ludicrous than to worship the comb or a shred of the garment of the Mother of God.]

Thus religious speculation deals with the dogmas torn from the connection in which alone they have any true meaning; instead of tracing them back critically to their true origin, it makes the secondary primitive, and the primitive secondary. To it God is the first, man the second. Thus it inverts the natural order of things. In reality, the first is man, the second the nature of man made objective, namely, God. Only in later times, in which religion is already become flesh and blood, can it be said – As God is, so is man; although, indeed, this proposition never amounts to anything more than tautology. But in the origin of religion it is otherwise; and it is only in the origin of a thing that we can discern its true nature. Man first unconsciously and involuntarily creates God in his own image, and after this God consciously and voluntarily creates man in his own image. This is especially confirmed by the development of the Israelitish religion. Hence the position of theological one-sidedness, that the revelation of God holds an even pace with the development of the human race. Naturally; for the revelation of God is nothing else than the revelation, the self-unfolding of human nature. The supra-naturalistic egoism of the Jews did not proceed from the Creator, but conversely, the latter from the former; in the creation the Israelite justified his egoism at the bar of his reason.

It is true, and it may be readily understood on simply practical grounds, that even the Israelite could not, as a man, withdraw himself from the theoretic contemplation and admiration of Nature. But in celebrating the power and greatness of Nature, he celebrates only the power and greatness of Jehovah. And the power of Jehovah has exhibited itself with the most glory in the miracles which it has wrought in favour of Israel. Hence, in the celebration of this power, the Israelite has always reference ultimately to himself; he extols the Greatness of Nature only for the same reason that the conqueror magnifies the strength of his opponent, in order thereby to heighten his own self-complacency, to make his own fame more illustrious. Great and mighty is Nature, which Jehovah has created, but yet mightier, yet greater, is Israel’s self-estimation. For his sake the sun stands still; for his sake, according to Pluto, the earth quaked at the delivery of the law; in short, for his sake all Nature alters its course. “For the whole creature in his proper kind was fashioned again anew, serving the peculiar commandments that were given unto them, that thy children might be kept without hurt.” According to Philo, God gave Moses power over the whole of Nature; all the elements obeyed him as the Lord of Nature. Israel’s requirement is the omnipotent law of the world, Israel’s need the fate of the universe. Jehovah is Israel’s consciousness of the sacredness and necessity of his own existence, – necessity before which the existence of Nature, the existence of other nations, vanishes into nothing; Jehovah is the salus populi, the salvation of Israel, to which everything, that stands in its way must be sacrificed; Jehovah is exclusive, monarchical arrogance, the annihilating flash of anger in the vindictive glance of destroying Israel; in a word, Jehovah is the ego of Israel, which regards itself as the end and aim, the Lord of Nature. Thus, in the power of Nature the Israelite celebrates the power of Jehovah, and in the power of Jehovah the power of his own self-consciousness. “Blessed be God! God is our help, God is our salvation.” – “Jehovah is my strength.” – “God himself hearkened to the word of Joshua, for Jehovah himself fought for Israel.” – “Jehovah is a God of war.

If, in the course of time, the idea of Jehovah expanded itself in individual minds, and his love was extended, as by the writer of the Book of Jonah, to man in general, this does not belong to the essential character of the Israelitish religion. {{shakey ground here}} The God of the fathers, to whom the most precious recollections are attached, the ancient historical God, remains always the foundation of a religion.

[We may here observe, that certainly the admiration of the power and glory of God in general, and so of Jehovah, as manifested in Nature, is in fact, though not in the consciousness of the Israelite, only admiration of the power and glory of Nature. (See, on this subject, P. Bayle, Ein Beitrag, &., pp. 25-29.) But to prove this formally lies out of our plan, since we here confine ourselves to Christianity, i.e., the adoration of God in man (Deum colimus per Christum. Tertullian, Apolog. C. 21). Nevertheless, the principle of this proof is stated in the present work.]


What huge imago made A psychopathic god

Hitler was not the Psychopathic god; Hitler and the German people who followed Grundmann sought to prise the Jesus of the German people out of the Hebrew scriptural matrix.  Susannah Heschel and _____ who was ambitious & sought a name for himself, pushed back against that humbling of the ego.

Jane Eisner’s speech to J Street displays several characteristics of the narcissist. In fact, the holocaust narrative is the religion of narcissism.  Can Abarbanel take that leap?

Was Benzion Netanyahu narcissistic? In “Origins of the Inquisition,” he define anti-semitism; does that definition boil down to the description of any person who resists the grandiose claims of the narcissist?

Benjamin Netanyahu was raised by a narcissist and was the not-chosen son of that narcissist, moreover, he has never performed an act of supreme narcissism as has his brother, thus, he will forever be, internally, a coward.  That makes him trebly troubled and dangerous.

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