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Lemmings

by on July 14, 2020

Lemmings

by Marco M. Pardi

The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass-movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the single-handed defiance of the world.” Eric Hoffer. The True Believer.

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Remember the lemmings? As a young boy I heard the myth of these small rodents racing en masse over cliffs to die on the rocks below. Each was driven by an impulse to suicide. Not being inclined to believe stories, I put that in my Maybe file. I was unaware of the fact this myth was centuries old and that some recent film makers had actually thrown lemmings off cliffs in making a film to further that myth. In fact deaths do occur during mass migrations, but not from suicide.

Another example of seemingly reckless behavior is found among the Wildebeests who migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti plain to Kenya’s Masai Mara. Most of us have seen films of them rushing across a river while crocodiles feast on the young, the old, and the infirm. But this migration is driven by climate, not despair.

Today, while the facts of incidental deaths during mass migrations are more commonly understood, the principle underlying the myth still points uncomfortably toward demonstrable tendencies in human populations.

In his 1979 book, Piercing the Reich, Joseph E. Persico recounts an episode I had heard several times before. An agent recruited by the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA) had successfully infiltrated into Berlin during the last months of WWII. As the city was being reduced to rubble by Allied bombers he asked a Berliner, “Why does the entire nation choose to commit suicide for the sake of one lunatic?”

The man answered, “It’s difficult to get the lunatic certified. He happens to be director of the asylum.”

Does this sound familiar? It should. Among several analyses by trained and experienced professionals a recent letter to Congress signed by over 350 psychiatrists, CIA Profilers, and other mental health professionals warned that the mental health of Donald Trump, titular President of the United States, is deteriorating rapidly and presents a danger to the United States. Another 37 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers said in a joint letter that President Donald Trump is unfit to be president.

“We believe that the grave emotional instability indicated by Mr. Trump’s speech and actions makes him incapable of serving safely as president.”

It should be noted that these and similar letters and opinion pieces were written and publicized long before the Covid-19 pandemic and the related economic meltdown. That is, they were formed before Mr. Trump claimed the virus was a Democratic hoax intended to discredit him, that the virus would disappear in warm weather “like a miracle”, that wearing a mask was for sissies and ingested or injected bleach would clear out the virus. As of this writing the U.S. death toll stands at over 135,000, many attributable to the weeks long delays in any responses or actions taken by the administration charged with protecting the safety of the American people.

But while the administration advised us to “not believe everything you see or read” scientists and scientific institutions began finding their voices. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading Infectious Diseases expert in the United States – and much of the world, and the Federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – CDC, emerged from scrambled first responses to positions of internationally recognized authority. CDC, a preeminent scientific institution always muzzled each time a Republican administration takes power, is regaining its voice in the face of outright lies spoken by a former game show host and repeated by the man who claims to be “President”.

However, the emergence of Dr. Fauci and the CDC is apparently threatening to this person, characterized by lifelong Profound Narcissism and Sociopathy. Whitehouse officials have acknowledged that a large part of Trump’s antipathy to Fauci stems from the much more favorable media “ratings” accruing to Fauci.

Yet, as of this writing the collated national polls show a disapproval rating for Trump of 55.6% and an approval rating of 40.3%. Some might take heart in the higher disapproval rating, but 40.3% is a far higher percentage than that of lemmings lost on a migration or Wildebeests culled by crocodiles. It strongly suggests that a major part of the electorate is unable to process factual information coming at them daily.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this is that getting Trump elected seems not to have been the primary focus of Vladimir Putin, rather it is the icing on the cake of sewing broad and crippling distrust in the democratic process itself. And who, after seeing what had been believed to be the least likely outcome of a democratic election held by mature and educated people, would not wonder that something had gone terribly wrong with the democratic process? Looking at the comprehensive economic and environmental wreckage and the hardened polarization among previously amiable co-workers, neighbors, and even family members, that’s got to be some cake Putin got.

By the way, for those who point to the pre-pandemic employment figures and the stock market, please realize those gains were made almost entirely by de-regulation of everything from the safety of your drinking water to the air you breathe and the products you buy and use, including previously somewhat safe food. And, look closely at the employment figures. When they are taken from employer reports they fail to recognize that two or three employers may have hired the same person; many people have two or three jobs due to the low pay and poor or absent benefits in any one of them. The stock market is not an index of how the economy is presently doing. It is an indicator of how the economy is expected to do. People buy stocks in a company on the expectation the company will increase its earnings, not on how the company is currently doing. In short, such investment is a gamble of investing in an imagined outcome. Look at the people who lost fortunes on the “dot-com” bust. How many lemmings went over that cliff?

Readers of this site know that I’ve written extensively of the development of Fascism in the United States. Interestingly, despite Donald Trump’s posturing and gestures imitating Mussolini, I don’t credit him with being intelligent enough to understand and follow an established system of political thought. To the extent that his expressed philosophy and actions do resemble those found in Fascism it is only an incidental resemblance provided by his truly Fascist handlers. So, instead, I credit the American Fascist Party of the 1930’s and early 1940’s which went underground during WWII and re-emerged in the late 1970’s with Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell as their chief puppet and chief spokesperson respectively. For background I refer the reader to Chris Hedges’ 2006 book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the war on America.

I remember an advertising slogan from “Madison Avenue” that said basically, “A million people can’t be wrong!” Well, over 67 million people voted for Trump and other “Republican” party candidates. I’m no expert on lemming populations but this seems to be an unusually large wave eager to race over a cliff. Ordinarily I would stand aside and bid them farewell. But this wave threatens to take much of the rest of life on this planet with it. Like potential stock investors, we might examine this prospectus and wonder if this is a company in which we want to invest; is this a company with a future?

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12 Comments
  1. Julie Moncrieff permalink

    My feeling is that old fashioned common sense doesn’t seem to be valued so much these days. When I say common sense I mean looking at why decisions were made in the first place and learning from that. I’m referring to my work place and a lot of government decisions that are made too. Power and control seem to be the goal for so many decisions that effect people and how we live our lives. As I’m getting older I’m starting to feel that these decisions are made by young people with little life experience putting their ideas across and then getting them approved as they have been ” educated” in the subject on hand, apparently “hands on experience doesn’t matter” I try not to think into all of this too much as it doesn’t serve me well and try and focus on the positive, more importantly the humour in life generally. I try not to take life too seriously 🙂

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  2. Thank you, Julie. I think your observation points to an unforeseen consequence of our ever more rapidly changing circumstances and poor cultural adaptations to them. People, perhaps in fear of losing control, are adopting short term answers instead of working to develop long term solutions.

    Stepping aside and letting the horde rush to its own destruction is tempting. But I’ve seen too many instances of innocents paying the ultimate price for the selfish behavior of those with power over them. I have far more yesterdays than I do tomorrows, but I’ll keep trying as long as I’m able.

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  3. Elizabeth Martinez permalink

    Clever analogy. I continue to be stumped over why so many Americans are willing to put their health and welfare on the line for a mentally, emotionally and spiritually ill man.

    Watching a video of the Goya CEO speaking high praises For the deceiver was nauseating.

    The small amount of information coming from Mary trump’s book is not surprising.

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    • Thank you, Elizabeth. Since the 2016 election there have been several efforts to understand how so many people were taken in by the carnival barker and his puppet masters. As I’ve said before, Hitler did not just walk out of a Munich beer hall and take over Germany. We apparently have a similar underclass of poorly educated and resentful people who were easy prey for the American Fascist Party (formerly Republican Party) which was lying in wait for just such an opportunity.

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  4. Dana permalink

    Marco, after watching some of Brian Kemp’s address this morning I find myself again enraged over fanatical right-wing Republican behavior and lack of logical thinking. It’s difficult not to wish the worst upon those people. But the worst potentially affects everyone such as our healthcare workers.

    I report to someone I overheard claiming it’s their constitutional right not to wear a mask. I wish I could refer them to what true Constitutional scholars might tell them, but even that would likely be a lost cause for the brainwashed masses. When someone’s so-called “right” infringes upon the safety, health and life of others, it is no longer a right. I can claim anything is MY right, such as choosing not to secure an infant in a safety seat in a vehicle.

    I’m also the offspring of Trump-supporters, one of whom recently claimed “the Lord” told them they will never be infected with covid19. Yet they decided to opt for testing a week ago after experiencing flu-like symptoms. So, which is it?

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    • Thank you, Dana. I fully empathize with your feelings toward such gross, non-logical thinking and behavior. And because it seems so pervasive it is hard to not just give up. Your situation is one in which many readers find themselves: the quandary of knowing something, and feeling compelled to act on that knowledge yet knowing that such action would have serious consequences for one’s means of livelihood. I experienced that for many years.

      Since there are delays in test results, I’m curious what the outcome will be for that couple you mention. (NOTE: I acknowledge no social or biological descent) I’m sure their belief system will provide them with some approved rationale should they test positive.

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      • Dana permalink

        The test was negative, but you are correct about the rationale for a positive outcome. In the end, it’s all about winning. No matter what happens, either way they the have all the “answers.”

        Haven”t you ever heard the term, “soul winning?”

        It is no wonder the evangelicals support a man who models his entire life toward that one goal – the “win.” Dump has even seemingly pitted himself against Dr. Fauci in some crazy popularity contest where nobody wins but many will die.

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  5. Thanks for the update, Dana. No, I’m not familiar with the term soul winning. People do not seem to speak of such things around me. I wonder why.

    Trump is leading people over a cliff. November is looking more dangerous by the day.

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  6. Days after reading this, I am still struck by the simplicity of the lessons it offers us if we are just willing to listen. The first, quite Buddhist in nature, is to never accept anything at face value. Just because you hear it said, or read it in the newspaper, doesn’t make it true. Things are often not what they at first appear to be. We have dealt these past three and a half years with a “man” about whom it might be said that you could tell he was lying because his mouth was moving. The second, and it comes closely on the heels of the first, is how dangerous it can be to follow a leader without thought or reason.

    I take into account all that has happened in the few days since this offering was posted. I fear for the soul of this nation, and for the lives of all who live within her borders. You can’t fix stupid, especially when so many seem oblivious to the damage which has been done. Still, it seems unfair to compare people to lemmings…unfair to the lemmings, that is.

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    • Thank you, Rose. As you know, I deeply regret my occasional comparisons of humans to other life forms. I’ve even apologized to buckets of dried paint for comparing Trump’s I.Q. to them.

      But you are right. We see a race to the bottom of utterly thoughtless people driven not by a “leader” but by instigators embedded strategically within the crowd, the society. Many of those who exert enormous pressure on the strings that move the Presidential marionette are people who do not hold elected office and have almost never been heard of before. An example is Stephen Miller, the reincarnation of Adolph Eichmann, architect of the Holocaust. Miller is the behind the scenes puppet master of Trump’s immigration policy.

      I deeply dread the possibility of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg falling too ill to continue, or dying. Without doubt “Moscow Mitch” McConnell would rally the American Fascist Senate to approve one of their nominees and that would be the end of the United States.

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