A complete psychological analysis of Trump’s support

Eric Rosenwald/Shutterstock
In Psychology Today by : Bobby Azarian Ph.D.

Whether we want to or not, we must try to understand the Donald Trump phenomenon, as it has completely swept the nation and also fiercely divided it. What is most baffling about it all is Trump’s apparent political invincibility. As he himself said even before he won the presidential election, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Unfortunately for the American people, this wild-sounding claim appears to be truer than not. It should also motivate us to explore the science underlying such peculiar human behavior, so we can learn from it, and potentially inoculate against it.

In all fairness, we should recognize that lying is sadly not uncommon for politicians on both sides of the political aisle, but the frequency and magnitude of the current president’s lies should have us all wondering why they haven’t destroyed his political career, and instead perhaps strengthened it. Similarly, we should be asking why his inflammatory rhetoric and numerous scandals haven’t sunk him. We are talking about a man who was caught on tape saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.” Politically surviving that video is not normal, or anything close to it, and such a revelation would likely have been the end of Barack Obama or George Bush had it surfaced weeks before the election.

While dozens of psychologists have analyzed Trump, to explain the man’s political invincibility, it is more important to understand the minds of his staunch supporters. While various popular articles have illuminated a multitude of reasons for his unwavering support, there appears to be no comprehensive analysis that contains all of them. Since there seems to be a real demand for this information, I have tried to provide that analysis below.

Some of the explanations come from a 2017 review paper published in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology by the psychologist and UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew. Others have been put forth as far back as 2016, by me, in various articles and blog posts for publications like Psychology Today. A number of these were inspired by insights from psychologists like Sheldon Solomon, who laid the groundwork for the influential Terror Management Theory, and David Dunning, who did the same for the Dunning-Kruger effect.

This list will begin with the more benign reasons for Trump’s intransigent support. As the list goes on, the explanations become increasingly worrisome, and toward the end, border on the pathological. It should be strongly emphasized that not all Trump supporters are racist, mentally vulnerable, or fundamentally bad people. It can be detrimental to society when those with degrees and platforms try to demonize their political opponents or paint them as mentally ill when they are not. That being said, it is just as harmful to pretend that there are not clear psychological and neural factors that underlie much of Trump supporters’ unbridled allegiance. Continue reading A complete psychological analysis of Trump’s support

Considering: the lawn

American Green

How did the plain green lawn become the central landscaping feature in America, and what is the ecological cost?

Ted Steinberg | American Green W. W. Norton & Company ******Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds of hours mowing your way to a designer lawn is to flirt, most would agree, with a bizarre form of fanaticism. Likewise, planting a species of grass that will make your property look like a putting green seems a bit excessive — yet not nearly as self-indulgent as the Hamptons resident who put in a nine-hole course with three lakes, despite being a member of an exclusive golf club located across the street. And what should we make of the Houston furniture salesman who, upon learning that the city was planning to ban morning mowing — to fight a smog problem comparable to Los Angeles’s — vowed to show up, bright and early, armed and ready to cut.“I’ll pack a sidearm,” he said. “What are they going to do, have the lawn police come and arrest me?”

Surprisingly, the lawn is one of America’s leading “crops,” amounting to at least twice the acreage planted in cotton. In 2007, it was estimated that there were roughly twenty-five to forty million acres of turf in the United States. Put all that grass together in your mind and you have an area, at a minimum, about the size of the state of Kentucky, though perhaps as large as Florida. Included in this total were fifty-eight million home lawns plus over sixteen thousand golf-course facilities (with one or more courses each) and roughly seven hundred thousand athletic fields. Numbers like these add up to a major cultural preoccupation.

Not only is there already a lot of turf, but the amount appears to be growing significantly. A detailed study found that between 1982 and 1997, as suburban sprawl gobbled up the nation, the lawn colonized over 382,850 acres of land per year. Even the amount of land eligible for grass has increased, as builders have shifted from single-story homes to multi-story dwellings with smaller footprints. The lawn, in short, is taking the country by storm. Continue reading Considering: the lawn

No…even the machines are made in China

In retrospect circa 2009

Capture the Flag

Traveling in California and New York over the last couple of weeks, I noticed something in the summer landscape of these two deeply blue states that is more reminiscent of rural America this time of year – a surfeit of American flags.

Among the offerings of street vendors in Harlem and outdoor stalls near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the flag is often fused with the image of President Obama, a burst of color against a bleak wall, sometimes with a Superman motif. In California, I saw Old Glory on bicycles in the Bay Area, on backpacks in Yosemite and at campgrounds under the redwoods.

DESCRIPTION A field of flags placed in Connecticut in honor of soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s not unusual to see a flag in liberal provinces, of course. But in the Bush years of sanctioned torture and war built on deceit, many Americans withdrew from overt displays of patriotism. Some said they were ashamed of their country. Continue reading In retrospect circa 2009

On Not Talking about Politics, Religion, Ethics, or Social Issues with Republican Family Members

Tiffany Willis 28 reasons done talking to conservative friends and family members

I’m a Southern girl. Born in the South, raised in the South, and have rarely lived anywhere BUT the South. I actually love the South. I’ll die in the South. Being a Southern girl, I have more than my share of right-wing friends, neighbors, and family members — and some of you have in recent years crossed the line into nut-jobbery.

The fact is — I love you guys and that will never change.

I’ll admit that I’m disappointed and disturbed to see intelligent and/or educated people who are willfully ignorant. But while it does change my opinion about you on some level, more than anything I’m embarrassed for you. It hurts me to see you post conspiracy theories on your Facebook timeline, only to have them debunked with a quick Snopes link. It hurts me to see you expressing unapologetic and blatant racism and ignorance. It absolutely tortures me to see you being on the wrong side of history on so many issues.

Although I’ll always love you guys, I have had to quit — for my own sanity and for the sake of our relationships — attempting to engage in intelligent conversation about politics and social issues with most of you. From now on, we’ll talk about the weather, recipes, our mutual friends, our children, our illnesses, thrift shop finds, and our old memories. I want to know what’s going on in your lives. What books are you reading? What home improvements are you planning? Hell, I’ll even follow you on Pinterest!

I very much appreciate those of you who can still have an intelligent conversation and listen to another point of view. Hopefully, this small group of sane conservatives never changes.

Here is why I have to abandon attempts at intelligent conversation with most of you. Continue reading On Not Talking about Politics, Religion, Ethics, or Social Issues with Republican Family Members

“What to the Slave is the 4th of July”

“What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?”

Independence Day Speech at Rochester, 1852

Frederick Douglass (A former slave himself, he
became a leader in the 19th Century Abolitionist Movement)
This speech is below, courtesy of The Freeman Institute™.

Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the “lame man leap as a hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were an inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Continue reading “What to the Slave is the 4th of July”

The Narcissistic Father

How a narcissistic dad can affect your life

Posted Mar 13, 2013 –

Mark Banschick M.D.

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves”. ~ T.S. Eliot


You used to think that by the time you were in your twenties and definitely by your thirties you’d have your act together – you’d be establishing a successful career, have your own place, be in a committed and stable relationship, visit the gym enough to have the body you always wanted, and your social life would be vibrant.

But you’re nowhere near where you thought you’d be, and the tiny boxes next to the list of achievements that you’d hoped to accomplish are still unchecked.

As your confidence deflates, you look back on your own upbringing and think about your father – Mr. Self-Assured. He seemed to have it all – charm, success, popularity. He never seemed to be plagued by self-doubt, unlike you. He was the life of the party, knew everyone and made things happen. You couldn’t get enough of him.

How Kids Experience Narcissistic Traits:

Come to think of it, did his confidence border on arrogance? Is it possible that you were raised by someone with narcissistic traits? And if so, why is it important?

We take our families for granted – it’s natural that we do. Each family is a miniature sociological experiment, with its own set of unwritten rules, secrets, and nuanced behavioral patterns. We take our mom and dad for granted; like this must be what it’s like for everyone. Your dad may have been narcissistic, but you just assumed that all fathers were like him.

Here are some signs that your dad had narcissistic tendencies or was an outright narcissist.

  • Dad was self-centered and pretty vain. He had an inflated sense of self-importance that led him to believe he was superior and entitled to only the best.
  • Dad used people for his own good. He would take advantage of others, to the point of exploiting them when it suited him. Everybody seemed to cater to him, or at least he expected them to.
  • Dad was charismatic. Everyone wanted to be around him and he relished admiration from others. He loved being in the spotlight and the positive reinforcement that came from being the center of attention.
  • No one had an imagination like Dad. Grandiosity is alluring, and so were his fantasies of success, prestige, and brilliance. He would often exaggerate his achievements, and his ambitions and goals bordered on unrealistic.
  • Dad didn’t take criticism well. Nothing stung him like criticism; he often cut those people out of his life or tried to hurt them.
  • Dad’s rage was truly scary. Some people get mad and yell a lot. Dad could hurt you with his anger. It cut to the bone.
  • Dad could be aloof and unsympatheticNarcissists often have a hard time experiencing empathy; they often disregard and invalidate how others feel. Of course, he was exquisitely sensitive to what he felt.
  • Dad wasn’t around a lot. He got a lot of gratification outside the family. Other fathers hung out with their families a lot more. Plus, he craved excitement and seemed to be more concerned by what others thought of him, rather than how his own kids felt about him.
  • Dad did what he wanted when dealing with youNarcissists don’t step into someone else’s shoes very often. He did things with you that he enjoyed; maybe you did as well.
  • Dad wanted you to look great to his friends and colleagues. You were most important to him when he could brag about you; sad but true.
  • You couldn’t really get what you needed from him. Even if Dad provided on a material level, you felt deprived on a more subtle level. For example, you wanted his attention and affection, but would only get it sporadically, and only when it worked for him.

When you go through these traits, some may hit home; while others may not be relevant. Some may ring as very true; while others as less so. This is why narcissistic traits are not synonymous with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Continue reading The Narcissistic Father

The Pledge vs The Preamble

The July 4th Holiday and Our Sacred Ideals

We have re-entered the twilight zone, between the supremacy of individualized dogma versus the wisdom and delight of community strivings.

The other contestant is the Preamble to the Constitution which begins: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The “Pledge” appeared on the scene more than a hundred years after the Declaration Of Independence and a literal reading of the phrases used in each proves which phrasing is more valid for the 21st Century.

While the Preamble speaks in a collective voice as an affirmation of the principles for which the Nation is being declared, the Pledge instead is a manufactured and mandated obligation toward a symbol. It further indirectly asserts the United States is a Republic, which is not literally accurate. It then asserts the Nation, which must include everything which exists in the Nation is subservient to an undetectable and unseen entity.

It goes on to assert the Nation is “indivisible” – but that is easily deflated by simply saying the words: Democrat or Republican.

The jingoistic urges of Mr. Bellamy in composing the Pledge should not be ignored, nor should the universalistic phrasing used in the Preamble. They spoke to two different versions of social life in America then, and now.

Global Control Is Coming from Business not Government

The concentration of market control by a single company or small group suggests they are doing something that is, or should be illegal


Just 3 companies control more than half (53%) of the global commercial market for seed.

  • The global commercial seed market in 2009 is estimated at 27,400 million.
  • The top 10 companies account for 73% of the global market (up from 67% in 2007).
  • Just 3 companies control more than half (53%) of the global commercial market for seed.
  • Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company and fourth largest pesticide company, now controls more than one-quarter (27%) of the commercial seed market.
  • Dow Agrosciences – the world’s fifth largest pesticide company – made a dramatic re-entry on the top 10 seed company list in 2009 following a seed company-buying spree that included Hyland Seeds (Canada), MTI (Austria), Pfister Seeds (USA) and Triumph Seed (USA), among others.


These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America

That’s consolidated from 50 companies back in 1983.

NOTE: This infographic is from last year and is missing some key transactions. GE does not own NBC (or Comcast or any media) anymore. So that 6th company is now Comcast. And Time Warner doesn’t own AOL, so Huffington Post isn’t affiliated with them.

But the fact that a few companies own everything demonstrates “the illusion of choice,” Frugal Dad says. While some big sites, like Digg and Reddit aren’t owned by any of the corporations, Time Warner owns news sites read by millions of Americans every year. Continue reading Global Control Is Coming from Business not Government

Snake Oil – by George Monbiot

Shell is not the green saviour it claims to be, but a planetary death machine

Snake Oil – Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:18 AM PDT

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 26th June 2019


It is hard to believe it needs stating, but it does. The oil industry is not your friend. Whatever it might say about its ethical credentials, while it continues to invest in fossil fuels, it accelerates climate breakdown and the death of the habitable planet. You would think this point was obvious to everyone. But over the past few weeks, I have spoken to dozens of environmentalists who appear to believe that Shell is on their side. I’ve come to the bizarre conclusion that there is more awareness of the oil industry’s agenda within the arts than there is among conservation groups.

Last week, the actor Mark Rylance brilliantly articulated his reasons for resigning from the Royal Shakespeare Company over its sponsorship by BP. The oil company had been subsidizing cheap tickets for young people. It might be trashing the world these young people will inherit, but they can watch some great shows. This is bread and circuses – without the bread.

“Surely,” Rylance asked, “the RSC wants to be on the side of the world-changing kids, not the world-killing companies?”. To judge by its responses to his complaints across the years, apparently not. But, thanks to campaigning groups like Platform, Art Not Oil, BP or not BP?, and Culture Unstained, theatre companies, museums and art galleries are at least aware that there’s a conflict.

Two months ago, Shell announced a $300m fund for “investing in natural ecosystems” over the next three years. This, it claims, will help “support the transition towards a low-carbon future.” By paying for reforestation, it intends to offset some of the greenhouse gases produced by its oil and gas extraction. In conversations with environmental campaigners from several parts of the world, I keep hearing the same theme: Shell is changing, Shell is sincere  – so shouldn’t we support it?

The fund sounds big, and it is – until you compare it to Shell’s annual income of $24 billion. Shell’s transition towards a low-carbon future is almost invisible in its annual report. Renewable energy doesn’t figure in its summary of financial results. When I checked with the company, it told me it had no discrete figure for its income from low carbon technologies. Nor could it tell me how much it invested in them last year. But it did pour $25 billion of investment into oil and gas in 2018, including exploration for new fossil fuel reserves in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and off the coasts of Brazil and Mauritania. Among its assets are 1400 mineral leases in Canada, where it makes synthetic crude oil from tar sands. Some transition. Continue reading Snake Oil – by George Monbiot

Additional details on trump’s mental decline

Trump’s Incoherent Speech In S. Korea Shows How Unwell He Really Is

This isn’t even funny anymore. This is terrifying.

Trump’s mental health, mainly the ever-increasing signs of dementia he’s presenting, have been such cause for concern that a Yale psychology professor has labeled it as a national emergency and several other mental health professionals have warned Americans of his rapid decline. Including psychologist John Gartner who penned an op-ed for USA Today where he explained Donald’s obvious and rapid mental decline.

“In Alzheimer’s, as language skills deteriorate, we see two types of tell-tale speech disorders or paraphasias,” Gartner wrote.

“Semantic paraphasia involves choosing the incorrect words… Phonemic paraphasia, which is linked to the moderate to severe stages of Alzheimer’s, is described as ‘the substitution of a word with a nonword that preserves at least half of the segments and/or number of syllables of the intended word.”

After Trump’s speech in South Korea today, Gartner’s, as well as the dozens of other professional’s, words ring even truer, and as the citizens of America, we should be very concerned.

In video footage posted to Twitter by Vox’s Aaron Ruptar, you can witness the president rambling like a fool, slurring his words, and completely losing his train of thought. And the people of Twitter cannot help but to share the serious concerns of Gartner and those like him — Trump is legitimately losing his mind.

The Status Quo Bias

A Contrarian’s message for commentators
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that some of my comments have disappeared from posts on FB and other social media sites. Many of the original article supporters have posted comments that are at odds with my orientation, but I do not erase them when they conflict with my orientation.

Moderators elsewhere choose to filter out oppositional or contrarian commentary, in effect supporting the orientation of the local group; yet see no problem with doing that. For example, some may consider it “OK” to say: “Pray for Pres. Trump”, while to me intercessory prayer has no affect on outcomes, and trump is a dysfunctional element in modern life. If I say so, it is viewed as provocative…but the same is not so for the original prayer request.

That’s fine with me…if someone doesn’t like my comments, please let me know in a PM and I will refrain from wasting my time posting messages that will never be seen – fairly.


Hard landing ahead

Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.

Future historians are likely to identify the Bush administration’s rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America’s downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first-century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.

But have no doubt: when Washington’s global dominion finally ends, there will be painful daily reminders of what such a loss of power means for Americans in every walk of life. As a half-dozen European nations have discovered, imperial decline tends to have a remarkably demoralizing impact on a society, regularly bringing at least a generation of economic privation. As the economy cools, political temperatures rise, often sparking serious domestic unrest.

Available economic, educational, and military data indicate that, when it comes to US global power, negative trends will aggregate rapidly by 2020 and are likely to reach a critical mass no later than 2030. The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030. Continue reading Hard landing ahead

The Decline of Empires

There have been a number or imperial powers in World history, all of which came together with great zeal, effort, and force, and all which collapsed or dissipated into irrelevancy over time. See if you can detect any common elements in the decline.


Several Features in the Decline of the Roman Empire
a) declines in morals and ethical behavior
b) public health
c) political corruption
d) unemployment
e) inflation
f) urban decay
g) inferior technology
h) military spending
i) collapse of administrative organizations

Several Features in the Decline of the British Empire
a) political rifts at home and defeats abroad
b) the rise of a competing power in Germany
c) the isolation period ended
d) social discord related to class
e) the abdication of Edward VIII
f) independence movements in Ireland, Burma, Palestine, and India
g) loss of manpower due to WWII
h) the Suez Crisis

Several Features in the Decline of the American Empire
a) imperial demands
b) fractured politics
c) large segmentation of economic, social, and political resources by class
d) jingoistic foreign policies combined with military interventions Worldwide
e) disintegration of the “Melting Pot” social compact
f) dysfunctional health care system
g) excessive personal and public debt
h) over-emphasis on military responses to international relations
i) exaggerated personal and religious liberty focus and decline in civic engagement
j) constant economic upheavals
k) loss of affiliation and attachment to science, acknowledged facts, and rationality
l) awareness of the imminent imperial decline

America’s Military circa 2010 updated to 2019

The American Military by Andrew Bacevich – May 2019


My very first piece for TomDispatch, reposted below, appeared more than a decade ago. Perhaps I’m not the best person to judge, but I believe that my critical assessment of American military policy and of the U.S. military system has stood the test of time.

Of course, other observers of our “forever wars” have offered a similar critique, among them more than a few contributors to TomDispatch, including William Astore, Ann Jones, Danny Sjursen, Nick Turse, and the late Chalmers Johnson. I’ll refer to them collectively as antiwar writers, although the term doesn’t adequately capture the breadth of their critique and their aspirations for an America that differs from the one that accepts permanent war as the norm.

It’s akin to categorizing Martin Luther King as a civil rights leader. Although he surely was that, his vision went well beyond seeking equality for African Americans. King wanted this country itself to become a different place. So, too, do those who, since 9/11, have helped create a vast body of antiwar literature.

In my estimation, it equals or surpasses in quality the antiwar literature inspired by the Vietnam War. Much of it comes from progressives. Yet no small amount is the handiwork of writers who identify themselves, as I do, as conservatives. Perhaps more significantly, former soldiers who have fought in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are now beginning to make their own notable contributions. And, of course, this body of work continues to accumulate, month after month.

Yet when it comes to the way Washington policy elites think about war and the U.S. military, that vast antiwar outpouring of poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction, images and videos has had negligible impact. I don’t mean to suggest that nothing has changed since 2003 when George W. Bush so confidently inaugurated Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, few members of the foreign policy establishment subscribe to the conviction that the United States is called upon to spread democracy globally at gunpoint under the rubric of “the Global War on Terror.” Even among most neoconservatives, the phrase “regime change” has lost whatever allure it once possessed. And apart perhaps from the current national security advisor, few advocate for preventive war whenever Washington takes a dislike to some faraway strongman.

Even so, all these years later, the underlying premises of U.S. policy and the forever wars that go with it remain very much intact — the massive military budget, the military-industrial complex, the empire of bases, the preference for coercion rather than diplomacy, with “all options” always “on the table.” No doubt policy elites have learned a few things since 9/11. But none of that has fundamentally affected the way that the establishment defines America’s proper role in the world. When it comes to war, we are a nation of addicts unaware of our addiction, in no small part because the evil effects tend to be felt most directly and powerfully by others.

So it has been gratifying for me to do my own bit in opposing militarism and Washington’s misguided use of armed force. And it’s been a privilege to express my views in a venue like TomDispatch. But there’s no disguising this essential fact: mission accomplished is nowhere in sight. Andrew J. Bacevich Continue reading America’s Military circa 2010 updated to 2019

Commentary by Non Sequitur

In response to the Jackie O to Melania trope

This is a photo of one of them…see if you can tell which one

…and don’t complain to me about posting this photo online – she posed for it publically


Our political system picks the wrong kind of leaders

Outer Turmoil

Our toxic political system produces toxic leaders. We should design a system that rewards kindness and honesty.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian, 12th June 2019


Who in their right mind would want the job? It is almost certain to end, as Theresa May found, in failure and public execration. To seek to be Prime Minister today suggests either reckless confidence or an insatiable hunger for power. Perhaps we need a reverse Catch 22 in British politics: anyone crazy enough to apply for this post should be disqualified from running.

A few years ago, psychologist Michelle Roya Rad listed the characteristics of good leadership. Among them were fairness and objectivity, a desire to serve society rather than yourself, a lack of interest in fame and attention, and resistance to the temptation to hide the truth or make impossible promises. Conversely, a paper in the Journal of Public Management & Social Policy has listed the characteristics of leaders with psychopathic, narcissistic or Machiavellian personalities. These include: a tendency to manipulate others, a preparedness to lie and deceive to achieve your ends, a lack of remorse and sensitivity, and a desire for admiration, attention, prestige and status. Which of these lists, do you think, best describes the people vying to lead the Conservative party?

In politics almost everywhere we see what looks like the externalisation of psychic wounds or deficits. Sigmund Freud claimed that “groups take on the personality of the leader”. I think it would be more accurate to say that the private tragedies of powerful people become the public tragedies of those they dominate.

For some people, it is easier to command a nation, to send thousands to their deaths in unnecessary wars, to separate children from their families and inflict terrible suffering than to process their own trauma and pain. What we appear to see in national politics around the world is a playing out in public of deep private distress.

This could be a particularly potent force in British politics. The psychotherapist Nick Duffell has written of “wounded leaders”, who were separated from their families in early childhood when they were sent to boarding school. They develop a “survival personality”, learning to cut off their feelings and project a false self, characterised by a public display of competence and self-reliance. Beneath this persona is a profound insecurity, that might generate an insatiable need for power, prestige and attention. The result is a system which “consistently turns out people who appear much more competent than they actually are.” Continue reading Our political system picks the wrong kind of leaders

A child is understood as seen through your lens

Net curtains – by George Monbiot

Net Curtains 

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 9th May 2019

Industrial fishing is the biggest threat to our blue planet. So why don’t we act on it?


It is the most important news humanity has ever received: the general collapse of life on Earth. So it’s hardly surprising that it appeared on the front pages of only two of our newspapers (the Guardian and the Independent). The vast international assessment of the state of nature, whose results, released on Monday, reveal that the living planet is in a death spiral, didn’t make even the sidebar on the front of any other paper. Of all the varieties of media bias, the deepest is the bias against relevance. The more important the issue, the less it is discussed.

There’s a reason for this. Were we to become fully aware of our predicament, we would demand systemic change. Systemic change is highly threatening to those who own the media. So they distract us with such baubles as a royal baby and a vicious dispute between neighbours about a patio. I am often told we get the media we deserve. We do not. We get the media its billionaire owners demand.

This means that the first duty of a journalist is to cover neglected issues. So I want to direct you to the 70% of the planet that was sidelined even in the sparse coverage of the new report: the seas. Here, life is collapsing even faster than on land. The main cause, the report makes clear, is not plastic. It is not pollution, not climate breakdown, not even the acidification of the ocean. It is fishing. Because commercial fishing is the most important factor, this is the one we talk about least. The BBC’s recent Blue Planet Live series, carefully avoiding any collision with powerful interests, epitomizing this reticence.

The fishing industry is protected by a combination of brute power and bucolic fantasy. When you hear the word fisherman, what picture comes to mind? Someone who looks like Captain Birdseye: white beard, twinkly eyes, sitting on a little red boat chugging merrily across a sparkling sea? If so, your image of the industry might need updating. An investigation by Greenpeace reveals that 29% of the UK’s fishing quota is owned by five families, all of whom feature on the Sunday Times Rich List. A single Dutch multinational, operating a vast fishing ship, holds a further 24% of the English quota. The smallest boats – under 10 metres long – comprise 79% of the fleet, but are entitled to catch just 2% of the fish.

The same applies worldwide: huge ships from rich nations mop up the fish surrounding poor nations, depriving hundreds of millions of their major source of protein, while wiping out sharks, tuna, turtles, albatrosses, dolphins and much of the rest of the life of the seas. Fish farming, by and large, has even greater impacts, as fish and prawns are often fed on entire marine ecosystems: indiscriminate trawlers dredge up everything and mash it into fishmeal. Continue reading Net curtains – by George Monbiot