Friday, June 22, 2007

What We Fear - and What We Don't

When I attended lectures on American culture in Moscow Linguistic University some 15 years ago I was astonished to hear about one particular trait of this culture: fear of “cezarepapizm”. The term historically is associated only with Byzantine culture, and in all history of Western Europe and Northern America there never was a precedent of political realization of this phenomenon. It never got materialized even in Russia, most close ideological heir of Byzantine tradition. So it belongs only to realm of political mythology. How could it happen that this non-existent threat (especially impossible in context of Anglo-Saxon culture and even more so in US, where separation of state and Church is enshrined in Constitution) became a source of pervasive, obsessive, exaggerated and irrational fear — a textbook description of phobia? If my professor was correct, this phobia amounts to universal neurosis, in Freud’s terminology. The same applies to fear of political repressions. There simply never was a precedent of this kind in American history; even McCarthyism did not produce cases of imprisonment people for their views or propaganda dissemination, only for perjury or espionage. Another mass phobia, also completely unfounded. In Soviet Union, on the other hand, we had a rampant spying scare, millions of innocent were jailed or executed for fabricated accusation of spying, while all borders were impenetrable and all contacts with foreigners strictly forbidden and impossible. American borders are existent only as lines on the map, hundreds of terrorists can trespass them every day, lots of international terror organizations openly boast their goals to commit terrorist acts on American soil (with smuggled nukes, perhaps). It took several weeks to erect Berlin wall (and analogue fortifications everywhere at DDR border). Americans, with vastly much more resources and much more real treat, failed to enforce effective border control for 6 years after 9/11. How it can be explained in terms of mental health that collectively people tend to fear most the least probable dangers and eagerly deny the most obvious ones? John Derbyshire’s Hypothesis of Collective Imprudence only postulates this phenomenon, but does not explain it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A new Emperor's Clothes are so old...

It is amusing that humans, it seems, unable to devise anything really new in such realms as world-view, ethics or religion, they only unknowingly reproduce the old ones with some modifications. For example, Leftist world-view for last 200 years (Marxism, Communism, Trotskyism, Stalinism and all varieties of Socialism) was and still is a combination of the two many-centuries-old heresies: Pelagianism and Manichean. Even the most zealous neocon, Christopher Hitchens, still follows this combination, replacing the original sin (capitalism) of his previous Trotskyist faith by a new enemy - Islam. He wants us to wage a Crusade against it, but not in the name of God, but in the name of secular New Enlightenment. A ridicule proposition: where can he hope to find enough true believers for that? To win an all-out religious war, one needs to be no less religion motivated and fanatical than his opponent. Atheism is not a weapon, but a fatal weakness in such a battle.
Islam, too, is a Manichean delusion, but combined not with Pelagianism, but with Calvinism in its most pessimistic and antihuman form.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

State as a nurse: what went wrong?

Britain's slow descent to socialism is marked by introducing of institutionalized system of state-run nurseries, as a form of help to working mothers. But it seems that this compassionate gesture, as many others attempts to provide help from government institutions, brought more harm than benefit to recipients of this help. School teachers began to note that something went wrong with these children from day-care centers; their behavior differ in many ways from that of home-nursed ones. Is this substitute of normal family care not completely adequate and somewhat deficient?
Hardly it surprised me. More than half a century ago a new diagnosis was introduced into infant psychiatry: hospitalism. Young inmates of orphanages, hospitals and other like institutions show retarded development in comparison to home-nursed children of the same age. Lots of studies were conducted to find the reason of this retardation: was it nitrition, poor living conditions before hospitalization, genetics or parents alcoholism? It turned out, however, that the only reason was the very fact of placing children in out-home environment, without close contact with mother. Humans simply are not fitted by their nature to develop normally without this everyday contact. Recently I read in Daily Telegraph:

"Now a government-commissioned study by Oxford University, the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the National Centre for Social Research confirms this anecdotal evidence in the most worrying way.

It found that children who attend nurseries for more than seven hours a day may be more confident and co-operative, but are also more likely to be become "worried and upset". They are likelier to bully and tease, are bossy and need to have their way - in short, to display the early signs of anti-social behaviour.

Such findings are hardly surprising. Placing children in institutionalised care from such a young age - a child can be placed in full-day care from the age of three months - will inevitably have an impact. Only now are we getting an idea of what that impact is.

This is a social experiment that could have the most disturbing long-term consequences."

It seems that all social experiments with socialist flavour are doomed to produce wrecked individuals with anti-social behaviour. Human nature revenges attempts to ignore or "improve" it — it is not malleable in any positive sense.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Some thoughts

When Fukujama in early 90 declared the end of history, he completely overlooked existence of the last undefeated aggressive, expansionist, totalitarian ideology - Islam. It is called "religion", but it is religion in name only because of its clearly stated political goals. Historically some other religions also declared such goals, but were urged to drop them when confronted and challenged by liberal political philosophy; this reform was the heart of Enlightenment. Islam has not undergone this transformation, and it is not clear yet whether it can accept it or survive it. So, Islam is the enemy. By diplomatic reasons it would be unwise to declare it officially; diplomacy inevitably includes good portion of hypocrisy. But it would be a suicide to fool ourselves by "religion of peace" rhetoric. Eradicate Islam is not possible now, but it is not needed. Our goal is to defeat, defang and disarm it, put it back into lethargic submission, which is its natural disposition.

Giving duly prizes to democracy and liberalism, one should also be aware of their inherent weaknesses and moral dangers. Enlightenment has a dark side to it — skepticism turned to relativism turned to nihilism. And democracy should have counterweights in form of aristocracy of spirit, or meritocracy. Otherwise it devolves into conglomerated mediocrity. Evelyn Waugh nailed it his The Loved One, and gave some cures in Brideshead Revisited. George Orwell declared that Waugh was "about as good a novelist as one can be while holding untenable opinions." But half a century after, these opinions do not seem to me untenable. One simply need have some faith to defend them.

Monday, February 12, 2007

One-dimensional man and political language

It is revealing that in western countries leftists intellectuals usually outnumber conservatives in education, mass media, show business and humanities, while in hard sciences, engineering and economics situation is reversed. In Soviet Union humanitarian or teaching career, as a rule, was chosen by those who felt themselves not smart enough to pass math exams.

Recently Psychology Today published a study comparing psychological features of conservatives and liberals and asserting that conservatives are neurotics possessed by irrational fear and reacting to it by conformism and clinging to authoritarian rule. Dan Beste debunked this analysis and proposed his own view on the essence of conservatism and liberalism in different historical circumstances. He found that the meaning of these terms depends on concrete historical reality and can change dramatically as this reality changes, even can became opposite to what it designated originally.

What Dan Beste really did looks alike what authors of scandalous Psychology Today “study” attempted: make a “saving translation” from the language of political philosophy to the language of personality psychology. But he did it much more thoughtfully and honestly. And so he found that personality characteristics can’t be expressed by a single value on any possible scale, but need many dimensions ­– the more the better. Personality is multi-dimensional “variable”, actually infinite dimensional. That is why serious psychologists, like Carl Jung or Viktor Frankl, prefer multi-dimensional approach to typology of personality. There are, alas, several formidable obstacles in using any of such classifications: first, axes are somewhat arbitrary, they are not really orthogonal, that is characteristics are not independent and usually correlate or anti-correlate, and, second, these correlations are not inherent, they are culturally dependent and wildly vary from one generation to another or from country to country. And, of course, most people hardly can imagine geometry of multi-dimensional space. So these correlation are used to simplify the picture and reduce dimensionality, usually to one. Such reduction can be more or less justifiable in one moment of history and became totally inadequate in another, because old correlations fade out and new emerge. More rigorous approach would be not to specify axes beforehand, but use Pearson’s biometrical statistics: multi-dimensional scaling, factor analysis, method of principal axes, cluster-analysis, and seek real correlations by objective statistical criteria. But modern psychologists, it seems, are too mathematically illiterate for this task.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Habitual socialism

Vladimir A. Chudov

Summary. At manufacturing firm, whoever may be its owner, boss, all property inside it indivisible. There is no private property inside factory fence. So the only possible type of production relations here is socialist one. This unavoidably influence psychology of hired labor employed in this factory. But outside if the factory, after work, the same people act at the market as consumers, and their psychology substantially influence current economic processes.

In the end 20-th century a tendency of applying psychology to economic studies has emerged. This is highlighted also by practice of awarding Nobel Prizes for studies of influence exerted by psychology of customers on general course of market processes. But market is only one component of human activity in the sphere of consuming, trade and distribution of goods. Exactly this problem of just distribution is of special interest to left-wing politicians; their voters often view social justice as elementary egalitarianism.

But to be able to distribute anything (just or not so just), one need, at first, have those goods produced. And organization of production is subject of professional interest of not so numerous managers, entrepreneurs and scientists. They are also anxious about psychology of employee, but in other aspect – only as participants of production process. Are these scientists anxious about the fact that the same person is simultaneously producer and customer, active participant of processes both of producing and buying of goods? How his psychology is formed and how it influence on his behavior in both of those spheres of human activity? Politicians of right wing also should think about it.

From this perspective, it is of interest to think about simple question: does a metal turner sell details to fitter? No, and nobody ever sells anything to anybody in course of industrial process. And this is so everywhere, throughout the world, irrespective of country and its social order. Why? After all, already two and half centuries ago Adam Smith had demonstrated how efficiently commodity-money relations work in sphere of distribution. Why he has no followers using commodity-money relations in sphere of production? It would be too far-fetched to classify so methods of Taguchi (Japan) or their simplified variant — Lapidus method (USSR). What is the problem? Point is that is impossible in principle.

In production firm property is indivisible irrespective of its ownership (private, state, joint-stock company, cooperative). Within the bounds of one enterprise, on single territory, there can be no private property. This is dictated by united technological chain, assigning successive division of labor. That is why commodity-money relations are impossible in production process. All-encompassing planning and administrative management, strict chain of command and undivided authority are obligatory there, the principle of hired labor (do what is required and take what is given). Technical documentation is the law, without choice. Instead of freedom and democracy — working discipline and regulations. If you do not like it, quit (in Stalin days, go under tribunal). And right to strike also exists, but only in democratic countries. How to describe this order? This is ordinary socialism, though local, and every firm has its own peculiarities.

This is so not only everywhere, but always, to begin with the first manufactories. Long before utopian or “scientific” socialism, long before historical materialism, before even coinage of the very word “socialism”. Formal slogan “from everybody by abilities, to everybody by labor” is slyness, it does not specify who really estimate these abilities and this labor; and objective estimation is not possible here, only subjective opinion of bosses, as in army.

Apart from abovementioned duality of person as producer and customer, the company employing him is also dualistic by its nature. It is like two-faced Janus: in relations with other firms it behaves as private-property agent of market, but in internal customs there is complete domination of socialism. Marxism has trained us to see as antipodes, antagonists market and socialism. But in reality they are two faces of one medal — capitalism, the two of its integral parts. One of them usually is associated with chaos, another with order, but together they represent unity of antipodes. Synthesis of these two principles ensures the maximal effectiveness of communal activity of humankind. It seems that this approach can help to cast a fresh glance at psychological problems of economics and management, and also on roles and function of political parties — left or right.

In conclusion, the author came across a strange phenomenon: inside any industrial company, in bowels of commodity producer, along technological chain there are no commodity-money relations, nobody ever sell anything to anybody. This fact does not require any substantiation or quotes from classics, it exists objectively and independently of our will, intents or emotions. And attempt to discover the root cause of this fact leads to conclusion that it is indivisibility of property inside firm. And social community without private property since old times is called socialism.

It only remains to paraphrase Mayakovsky:

– and socialism is so nasty thing — exists, and don't care a straw!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mathematics as a tool of deception and self-deception

As a mathematician, I have a deep contempt of the whole world of modern "quantitative" psychology. This is, at best, self-deception, futile attempt to measure non-measurable "quantities", which really are not quantities at all. Many times in my professional life I was invited "to do math" for some psychological study, and in final analysis it inevitably happened that quality of the data made impossible unambiguous interpretation. The very concepts of this "science" are so elastic and even fluid, that they positively defy any math rigor. By very slight manipulation, which is unavoidable for any formalization, you can shape your conclusions to any desired outcome. Does it mean that psychology is not a science? Certainly not in the sense in which physics, chemistry or even biology are. This is “humanitarian science”, that is more philosophy and art, and this is hypocrisy to pretend that in this field any “hard” facts independent on world-view are possible. This is another illustration and interpretation of Orwell”s statement that “any humanitarian is hypocrite”.

I can add some recent experience. Two or three month ago in “Science” there was an article comparing men’s and women’s cognitive skills by comparing their respective IQ on a vast, ostensibly representative sample. Authors get two nice bell-shaped curves, so close to each other, that superimposed on the single graph they virtually coincided. But after cutting through three pages of dull technicalities, I burst with laugh. The whole trick was the definition of measured quantity. Such thing as intellect can not, of course, be quantified by single number. That is, when the procedure of measurement is defined, you get one of myriad of possible definition of what intellect is, depending on what type of task included into tests. Some deal with logic reasoning, some with pattern recognition, some with common sense and linguistic skills, and all are relative to “scores” that other people got on the same set of tasks. Every block contain many repetitive variation on the same theme. No wonder, that in such tests on any large sample a normal Gaussian distribution is obtained. The mean value is normalized to be 100 points; but really on different types of tasks different people get different results. Some are better in logic, some in geometry, some in arithmetic; proportion of different type of tasks is arbitrary, just as amount of time for every block. This arbitrariness means that any concrete “recipe” of the test is a definition of the measured quantity. Recipe by definition is adjusted so that the results were independent on sexual composition of the sample. If they are not, your recipe is turned down as “gender biased”. This means that in reality, the definition of intellectual capabilities by IQ is arbitrary chosen so it can not differentiate between the two sexes, and completely non-fit to study any real differences if they exist. But the next blunder in this study is even more egregious. Authors normalized experimental curves for male and female sub-samples by their respective standard deviations — for males by standard deviation for males, and for females by standard deviation for females! As every statistician know, Gaussian distribution has only two free parameters — mean and standard deviation, so when you normalize it by both you have the only one possible result — The Normalized Normal Distribution! It simply can not be different for different samples, irrespective of the nature of the set under study, and this has not anything to do with psychology, men and women, and with any physical reality at all. This is statistical artifact — Central Limit Theorem. It neither proves nor disproves anything, except complete mathematical illiteracy (innumeracy?) of the authors and ideological blindness of editorial board of this, in the old days reputable journal (“Science”), which, after its hijacking by Leftist Donald Kennedy, became a laughing-stock and megaphone of Leftist Agitprop.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Brave New World, or European Road to Serfdom

Recently well-known Russian dissident Vladimir Bukovsky made a speech in European parlament about some alarming tendencies in EU. Here is a transcript of this speech.

In 1992 I had unprecedented access to Politburo and Central Committee secret documents which have been classified, and still are even now, for 30 years. These documents show very clearly that the whole idea of turning the European common market into a federal state was agreed between the left-wing parties of Europe and Moscow as a joint project which [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev in 1988-89 called our “common European home.”

The idea was very simple. It first came up in 1985-86, when the Italian Communists visited Gorbachev, followed by the German Social-Democrats. They all complained that the changes in the world, particularly after [British Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher introduced privatisation and economic liberalisation, were threatening to wipe out the achievement (as they called it) of generations of Socialists and Social-Democrats – threatening to reverse it completely. Therefore the only way to withstand this onslaught of wild capitalism (as they called it) was to try to introduce the same socialist goals in all countries at once. Prior to that, the left-wing parties and the Soviet Union had opposed European integration very much because they perceived it as a means to block their socialist goals. From 1985 onwards they completely changed their view. The Soviets came to a conclusion and to an agreement with the left-wing parties that if they worked together they could hijack the whole European project and turn it upside down. Instead of an open market they would turn it into a federal state.

According to the [secret Soviet] documents, 1985-86 is the turning point. I have published most of these documents. You might even find them on the internet. But the conversations they had are really eye opening. For the first time you understand that there is a conspiracy – quite understandable for them, as they were trying to save their political hides. In the East the Soviets needed a change of relations with Europe because they were entering a protracted and very deep structural crisis; in the West the left-wing parties were afraid of being wiped out and losing their influence and prestige. So it was a conspiracy, quite openly made by them, agreed upon, and worked out.

In January of 1989, for example, a delegation of the Trilateral Commission came to see Gorbachev. It included [former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro] Nakasone, [former French President ValĂ©ry] Giscard d’Estaing, [American banker David] Rockefeller and [former US Secretary of State Henry] Kissinger. They had a very nice conversation where they tried to explain to Gorbachev that Soviet Russia had to integrate into the financial institutions of the world, such as Gatt, the IMF and the World Bank.

In the middle of it Giscard d’Estaing suddenly takes the floor and says: “Mr President, I cannot tell you exactly when it will happen – probably within 15 years – but Europe is going to be a federal state and you have to prepare yourself for that. You have to work out with us, and the European leaders, how you would react to that, how would you allow the other Easteuropean countries to interact with it or how to become a part of it, you have to be prepared.”

This was January 1989, at a time when the [1992] Maastricht treaty had not even been drafted. How the hell did Giscard d’Estaing know what was going to happen in 15 years time? And surprise, surprise, how did he become the author of the European constitution [in 2002-03]? A very good question. It does smell of conspiracy, doesn’t it?

Luckily for us the Soviet part of this conspiracy collapsed earlier and it did not reach the point where Moscow could influence the course of events. But the original idea was to have what they called a convergency, whereby the Soviet Union would mellow somewhat and become more social-democratic, while Western Europe would become social-democratic and socialist. Then there will be convergency. The structures have to fit each other. This is why the structures of the European Union were initially built with the purpose of fitting into the Soviet structure. This is why they are so similar in functioning and in structure.

It is no accident that the European Parliament, for example, reminds me of the Supreme Soviet. It looks like the Supreme Soviet because it was designed like it. Similary, when you look at the European Commission it looks like the Politburo. I mean it does so exactly, except for the fact that the Commission now has 25 members and the Politburo usually had 13 or 15 members. Apart from that they are exactly the same, unaccountable to anyone, not directly elected by anyone at all. When you look into all this bizarre activity of the European Union with its 80,000 pages of regulations it looks like Gosplan. We used to have an organisation which was planning everything in the economy, to the last nut and bolt, five years in advance. Exactly the same thing is happening in the EU. When you look at the type of EU corruption, it is exactly the Soviet type of corruption, going from top to bottom rather than going from bottom to top.

If you go through all the structures and features of this emerging European monster you will notice that it more and more resembles the Soviet Union. Of course, it is a milder version of the Soviet Union. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that it has a Gulag. It has no KGB – not yet – but I am very carefully watching such structures as Europol for example. That really worries me a lot because this organisation will probably have powers bigger than those of the KGB. They will have diplomatic immunity. Can you imagine a KGB with diplomatic immunity? They will have to police us on 32 kinds of crimes – two of which are particularly worrying, one is called racism, another is called xenophobia. No criminal court on earth defines anything like this as a crime [this is not entirely true, as Belgium already does sopb]. So it is a new crime, and we have already been warned. Someone from the British government told us that those who object to uncontrolled immigration from the Third World will be regarded as racist and those who oppose further European integration will be regarded as xenophobes. I think Patricia Hewitt said this publicly.

Hence, we have now been warned. Meanwhile they are introducing more and more ideology. The Soviet Union used to be a state run by ideology. Today’s ideology of the European Union is social-democratic, statist, and a big part of it is also political correctness. I watch very carefully how political correctness spreads and becomes an oppressive ideology, not to mention the fact that they forbid smoking almost everywhere now. Look at this persecution of people like the Swedish pastor who was persecuted for several months because he said that the Bible does not approve homosexuality. France passed the same law of hate speech concerning gays. Britain is passing hate speech laws concerning race relations and now religious speech, and so on and so forth. What you observe, taken into perspective, is a systematic introduction of ideology which could later be enforced with oppressive measures. Apparently that is the whole purpose of Europol. Otherwise why do we need it? To me Europol looks very suspicious. I watch very carefully who is persecuted for what and what is happening, because that is one field in which I am an expert. I know how Gulags spring up.

It looks like we are living in a period of rapid, systematic and very consistent dismantlement of democracy. Look at this Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. It makes ministers into legislators who can introduce new laws without bothering to tell Parliament or anyone. My immediate reaction is why do we need it? Britain survived two world wars, the war with Napoleon, the Spanish Armada, not to mention the Cold War, when we were told at any moment we might have a nuclear world war, without any need for introducing this kind legislation, without the need for suspending our civil liberaties and introducing emergency powers. Why do we need it right now? This can make a dictatorship out of your country in no time.

Today’s situation is really grim. Major political parties have been completely taken in by the new EU project. None of them really opposes it. They have become very corrupt. Who is going to defend our freedoms? It looks like we are heading towards some kind of collapse, some kind of crisis. The most likely outcome is that there will be an economic collapse in Europe, which in due time is bound to happen with this growth of expenses and taxes. The inability to create a competitive environment, the overregulation of the economy, the bureaucratisation, it is going to lead to economic collapse. Particularly the introduction of the euro was a crazy idea. Currency is not supposed to be political.

I have no doubt about it. There will be a collapse of the European Union pretty much like the Soviet Union collapsed. But do not forget that when these things collapse they leave such devastation that it takes a generation to recover. Just think what will happen if it comes to an economic crisis. The recrimination between nations will be huge. It might come to blows. Look to the huge number of immigrants from Third World countries now living in Europe. This was promoted by the European Union. What will happen with them if there is an economic collapse? We will probably have, like in the Soviet Union at the end, so much ethnic strife that the mind boggles. In no other country were there such ethnic tensions as in the Soviet Union, except probably in Yugoslavia. So that is exactly what will happen here, too. We have to be prepared for that. This huge edifice of bureaucracy is going to collapse on our heads.

This is why, and I am very frank about it, the sooner we finish with the EU the better. The sooner it collapses the less damage it will have done to us and to other countries. But we have to be quick because the Eurocrats are moving very fast. It will be difficult to defeat them. Today it is still simple. If one million people march on Brussels today these guys will run away to the Bahamas. If tomorrow half of the British population refuses to pay its taxes, nothing will happen and no-one will go to jail. Today you can still do that. But I do not know what the situation will be tomorrow with a fully fledged Europol staffed by former Stasi or Securitate officers. Anything may happen.

We are losing time. We have to defeat them. We have to sit and think, work out a strategy in the shortest possible way to achieve maximum effect. Otherwise it will be too late. So what should I say? My conclusion is not optimistic. So far, despite the fact that we do have some anti-EU forces in almost every country, it is not enough. We are losing and we are wasting time.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Psychology of Jihad

Current international situation, being patently abnormal, can not be understood in terms of normal psychology and so needs to be considered in terms of psychiatry. This approach allows us to see real psychodynamic mechanisms at play and devise realistic measures to tackle them.

Certain mental maladies are contagious and can engulf whole nations. This is evident in cases of Communism and Nazism, medieval witch hunt and heresies, pacifistic and feministic movements, climate change scare and some other eco-doom eschatological hysterics and phobias. Many crazy cults have the same flavor of mental epidemic. They occur in situation of anomie and decadence, when crisis of traditional beliefs, norms and values has suppressed natural immunity to these spiritual viruses. As all opportunistic infections, they persist in latent form and wait until conditions are ripe for epidemic outbreak.

Now we have two concurrent mental epidemics, one in the West and other in Middle East, which aggravate and intensify each other. (Like AIDS and tuberculosis.) The pathology of Western society consciousness was extensively studied by Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, who on the basis of his personal experience in Nazi concentration camps innovated the existential analysis — a new approach to therapy, going beyond Freudian and Adlerian analysis. The bottom line of his studies is that modern Western people have another type of universal neurosis than Freud’s or Adler’s patients: the core of it in permissive society with abundant possibilities of self-realization is not sexual frustration or frustration of will to power and success, but frustration of will to meaning. (See his books: “The Doctor and the Soul. N.Y., Vintage Books, 1973” or “The Will to Meaning. N.Y., Plume, 1969”.)

The notion of existential vacuum, or anomie, perfectly describe spiritual situation in post-Christian Europe and Europe-emulating subculture of godless American intellectuals. (Viktor Frankl also jokingly proposed to erect at the western coast of US a complement of Statue of Liberty, situated at the eastern coast, — Statue of Responsibility, somewhere in San-Francisco Bay Area.) A whole entangling of leftist soul pathologies is neatly described in terms of Frankl’s existential analysis.

In contrast, Middle Eastern medieval mentality is a mighty invitation to both Freudian and Adlerian approaches because of extremely repressive culture and stagnant social order of these societies. Usually the latter features result only in apathy and fatalism, so typical for the region during most part of the last millennium; but since WWII and decolonization a new factor came into play: frustration of self-esteem of these cultures. It was described by different names — future shock, cultural shock, clash of civilizations, — but underlying mechanism is simple.

Imagine some poor, backward, patriarchal tribe suddenly challenged by contact with advanced, prospering, affluent civilization, very different in its ways and customs. All its artifacts surpass everything that these savages can fancy; contemplate, for example, Vandals entering ancient Rome. These huge, magnificent buildings, statues, decorations, fountains; columns and aqueducts; wide paved streets and spacious squares; Colosseum, beside which these poor guys seemed to themselves gnomes or gnats. All these stones, it seemed, yelled to them: you are miserable, inferior creatures; you would never be capable to erect anything comparable! Guess, what their reaction were?

Of course. Vandalism. This is the name under which this tribe entered history pages. Inferiority complex, originated in patriarchal family with sexually frustrated young men and aggravated by unexpected, undeniable demonstration of their tribe inferiority, had fueled and triggered sudden and senseless orgy of destruction. Warrior culture built on honor and shame was wounded to the quick. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And next, imagine rustic goat-herders or cameleers with most primitive conditions of everyday life, among whom European settlers are buying land, planting eucalypti at malaria swamps, cultivating, draining and irrigating wastelands, making greenhouses and vegetable gardens and do lots of other unseen things. And gather crops, plenty of them; several years passed — and these newcomers are rich! (Not by European standards, of course, but by Bedouin standards — very rich.) Also take into consideration that these poor folks are habitual robbers. Robbery is a long-standing tradition in Middle East; it comes along with goat-herding and cameleering. So, their reaction is fairly predictable. And reaction of those whom they rob is also quite usual and understandable.

Nothing previously unknown was going on here; this, at least for the time being, is millennia-old conflict of herdsmen and farmers. Only, usually nomadic herders arrive (or foray) on settled farmers lands; this time farmers arrive on the lands that herders used to reckon theirs. Conflict aggravates, escalates to all-out intertribal war, intermingled with external powers struggle, and, at last, is settled by UN resolution on land division (which farmers proposed from the beginning of the clashes). The later developments are too well known to describe again; I only sketched the psychological background of conflict: two very different cultures on very different stages of development, one on ascending, enthusiastic period of its history, another on stagnant and blind-ally path.

This conflict is not so important to global development as it is often portrayed; but, at a smaller scale, it really reflects general pattern and underlying mechanisms of much more dimensioned and epoch-making conflict of Western civilization with medieval or even more primitive barbarism of Muslim civilization. It also has already passed many stages of development to which the second, more wide clash, has not arrived yet, and so is a good predictive model for the latter. That is why it deserves more detailed scrutiny. Perception of this conflict is also a sensitive litmus test of sanity of West as a whole, of its different subcultures and of individuals as well. In this magic crystal we can see themselves and our future. So let us see — and try not to fear too much.