Civilization's Gender Gap


Samuel Huntington was only half right. The cultural fault line that divides the West and the Muslim world is not about democracy but sex. According to a new survey, Muslims and their Western counterparts want democracy, yet they are worlds apart when it comes to attitudes toward divorce, abortion, gender equality, and gay rights?which may not bode well for democracy?s future in the Middle East.

That's the come-on for a provocative Foreign Policy article which argues that social attitudes toward gender equality are better indicators of whether the West can really get along with the Orthodox/Islamic East.

Everyone, even the leaders of Communist China, pays lip service to "democratic ideals" say authors Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, who oversaw the "World Values Survey." The real question is whether they actually embrace tolerance and pluralism.

The United States cannot expect to foster democracy in the Muslim world simply by getting countries to adopt the trappings of democratic governance, such as holding elections and having a parliament. Nor is it realistic to expect that nascent democracies in the Middle East will inspire a wave of reforms reminiscent of the velvet revolutions that swept Eastern Europe in the final days of the Cold War. A real commitment to democratic reform will be measured by the willingness to commit the resources necessary to foster human development in the Muslim world. Culture has a lasting impact on how societies evolve. But culture does not have to be destiny.

When I hear phrases like "real commitment" and "the resources necessary" I reach to make sure my wallet's still in my back pocket, and I have real doubts as to whether the sort of simple gender parity in global legislatures the authors seem to be talking about is all that important.

But I think the Inglehart and Norris have identified a major rift between East and West. The relative social, economic, and cultural autonomy of women in the West and the general acceptance of female sexuality as something other than terrifying and debilitating to civilization is one of the great accomplishments of Enlightenment-derived liberal modernity–and one that, as Mae West and Madonna could tell you, is of exceedingly recent vintage. The same is equally true for homosexual and alternative sexualities too.

[Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.]


NEXT: Reading Lolita in Iran

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  1. who cares about democracy or even pluralism. What about economic freedom?

  2. Jim,

    Your point is well taken, and of course women wouldn’t vote away their right to vote.

    My own point, however, is that if we insist that Iraq’s democracy include women having the right to vote and hold office as well as other liberal values that we associate with an open and democratic society (even if they’re not technically the same thing), might that not provoke an anti-democratic backlash? In other words, some sort of coup or rebellion that replaces our installed democracy with a new authoritarian regime? Stranger things have happened!

    Now, I’m not predicting this per se, mind you, but my point is that the cultural gap that Nick posted about could lead to such a result if we try to impose our liberal values on Iraq as part of the democratic shebang. In which case this cultural gap could end up being a barrier to middle east democracy even if such values weren’t an impediment to democracy elsewhere and in the past.

  3. I think expecting the rest of the world to develop exactly like the West did is foolish. Singapore, Japan, South Korea, etc. all have very prosperous economies, but I dare say that their political and social systems are very different than what is the case in the US or Western Europe. For that matter, the US and Western Europe, which are both very prosperous areas of the world, are also very different. For example, think about the differences between the common law and civil law, and you’ll see what I mean.

  4. Steve,

    Is anyone arguing with you about that? Nick only appears to be saying that gender equality is not accepted in the Muslim world. Equity as a social policy is not accepted even here (for good reason), so I don’t see that it’s an issue.

    Anon @ 1:02 PM,

    Maybe you’re right that economic freedom is most important, but obviously that’s not what sells, democracy is. And once we install democracy in Iraq, it’ll be up to them what to do with it!


    You’re certainly right that whatever we install in Iraq will end up being more liberal than most of its neighbors. But the question remains, will it survive?

  5. So the general acceptance of homosexuality and “alternative sexualities” is the bellweather of western freedom?

    I don’t buy that. I believe that the social presence of the habits and customs that make self rule possible are the earmarks of a free society. Convening a local meeting to clean up the block, expecting the cops to respect your right to due process, having a say in governance – I think these are more important than the right to party hardy. I know this comes from arch-conservative Burke, but I don’t think that makes it untrue.

    As for the freedom to shag whatever you want to shag as a symbol of liberty, what about all the man-boy lovin’ and man-sheep lovin’ that proliferates in parts of the middle east? Or all the polyamory? It seems to me these “alternative sexualities” are both accepted and perceived as something other than terrifying and debilitating to society. How exactly does their presence represent the presence of civil liberties?

    Or don’t you consider these to be “alternative sexualities”?

  6. Fyodor,

    You could be right – check out the “Reading Lolita in Iran” post. Apparently Iranian women did allow their rights to be reduced. That type of backlash is a significant risk.


    I don’t expect democracy and western concepts of freedom to develop exactly as they have here in the ‘west’ (US and western Europe), and given the way we’ve actually lost a lot of freedoms in recent years I would certainly hope some things are not mimic’ed exactly. Some things that should be copied won’t be (I’m sure the new Iraqi constitution won’t get the equivalent of the second amendment, esp. if Europe is involved in any way). However I was refering to the general historical trend regarding the concept of individual rights and its broader application to ever widening circles of people. Further, it is far easier now to point to the examples of the relatively wealthy and peaceful democracies as examples that can work.

  7. Jim,

    I can give you an example of a very prosperous police state – Singapore. 🙂 The point being that economic success doesn’t neccesarily bring with it political freedom (or at least the things that you or I might consider political freedom). Many cultures/nationalties simply may not like or want the freedoms that we have (or think we have). Thus in Singapore most of the population likes the fact that the government censors its media, etc.

  8. I read somewhere that when they held limited elections in, i think Kuwait – one of the sheikdoms anyway, a majority of women voted for conservative candidates, the kind who were for stricter adherence to sharia law. Maybe a culture of tolerance does need to come first.

  9. I’m reading a lot of posts that fret about the destabilizing, dangerous effects of providing women with full citizenship. Has anyone considered that having half your population in a state of legal and social submission might be destabilizing? That sexist societal roles are closely tied to sexist violence? That kids who grow up watching dad beat mom might be more likely to shoot kalashnikovs at their political opponents?

  10. But doesn’t our “culture of tolerance” only go as far as what we currently think is right, or what it’s fashionable to believe at the time? I know plenty of people who think they should have a right to keep David Duke from living in their neighborhood. If the people of Iraq freely elect a Taliban-like government shouldn’t we have to tolerate that?

  11. Disclaimer- this post is a mess, but-

    Nations defeated in war or conquered in the name of colonialism often experience a backlash against native females- largely theorized as compensating for percieved emmasculation. (Women’s Studies- YMMV.)

    Consequently, “encouraging” gender equality may be necessary, especially if we are unable to shake the “colonial” implications of Mstr’s Garner and Co.

    Oh- and I would just float the suggestion that we may be taking an unusually pessimistic view of Middle East Citizens. As numerous posters have noted, we enjoy an level of freedom and equality without precedent- and of extremely recent origin. Remember that homosexuals were commited to mental hospitals and castrated against their will in living memory. Perhaps our expectations are too high…

  12. Joe,

    C’mon, I don’t think anyone here is saying that inequality for women is a good thing. But if left to their own devices, will the Iraqis agree? And if forced to accept democracy *as we know it*, including equality for women, will democracy survive there if there is widespread opposition to such values? No one knows the answers, but that’s what we’re wondering about, not whether *we* think equality for women is good.


    That’s the 64 billion dollar question, isn’t it, what WILL we tolerate in an Iraqi “democracy”? If it’s a true democracy, it will reflect what the Iraqis want, not what we want. And that may include anti-woman, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments that aren’t exactly what we had in mind for a country we liberated!

  13. Harry Tuttle

    “If the people of Iraq freely elect a Taliban-like government shouldn’t we have to tolerate that?”

    Upto a point – and that point is reached when their illiberal ways threaten open societies. Examples – flying planes into buildings, funding the growth of fundementalism etc. At that point they can expect massive force projection, quite justified IMHO, into their backyard, under whatever pretext, such as is happening now.
    Are you suggesting that the USA should not have opposed the USSR if the latter had some form of elected government ? I think it is rather naive of contemporary western society, especially some in europe, to expect liberal & closed/static societies to coexist peacefully.

  14. SM,

    For the most part, liberal and closed/”static” (as if there really ever was a static society, or a close one either) societies do co-exist peacefully.

  15. Croesus

    Umm … Which history books have you been reading recently ?
    And yes, terms like liberal and closed are simplifications but i dont think it’s hard to understand the ideas they convey.

  16. This responds a bit to an anonymous post, but also a bit to what Jim and Croseus discussed.

    Economic success is not the same thing as economic freedom. Economic freedom does not guarantee success, nor does it guarantee failure. I think in nearly every case, especially the US (since I’m most familiar with it), people would rather have economic success than economic freedom, and would sacrifice freedom for some guarantees. As much as I wish that weren’t the case, that’s the history of most of the world.

    When the chips are down, people want protection more than they want freedom.

  17. Anonymous @ 5:09 PM,

    What can guarantee economic success?? I would think economic freedom does the best job of bringing about economic success, and even if some people disagree with that, is there anything that anyone thinks GUARANTEES economic success???

  18. SM,

    Well, as far as warfare, violence, and the like is concerned (if that’s what you mean by history), for the most part, its been the “liberal” (if by this you mean the “West” plus Japan) societies invading the “closed” societies over the past few hundred years, not vice versa. The Chinese didn’t send gunboats up the Thames, nor did the Inca invade Andalusia, etc. and take Isabel and Ferdinand captive, nor did the Indians send a fleet to set up shop in Lisbon, or London, or Amsterdam. The last few hundred years in fact has been one royal ass-kicking of these “closed” societies. Think about it, the last time the West had to fight a non-Western enemy that was remotely comparable militarily to its prowess was during the Ottoman invasions of SE Europe. The Janissaries couldn’t make it past Vienna however, where a Pole of all people (Jan Sobieski, the King of Poland) saved the day and sent the Ottomans packing in Sept. 1683.

    Terrorism, though it has obviously led to some nasty incidents, hasn’t nearly effected the “liberal” societies in the way conquest and colonialism effected the “closed” societies (heck, we drew lines through their territory and aribtrarily created nations!). So yes, they do co-exist peacefully, and when they don’t, the liberal societies kick the “closed” societies ass!

  19. Anonymous @ 5:09 PM,

    At one time the Chinese empire was the most advanced nation on the planet, if we measure such by the level of technological skill, level of trade, and military might. Much of this success was state-sponsored. When the state decided to withdraw its support, so went the skills, the trade, and the might.

  20. So then how do Inglehart & Norris explain away that Western feelings about divorce, abortion, gender equality, and gay rights are all recent phenomenons. Especially in that the “old feelings” which mimic the present-day Muslim ones, didn’t prevent a number of Western countries from fostering and developing democratic-like states.

    Or is it just because they’re just a bunch of wogs…?

  21. good morning!

    … and the differences within the western world. (scandinavia vs. southern states, for example) are pretty great, so this monolithic divide is tough to buy.

    and Nick, don’t you feel that the arch conservative baptists here would also find female sexuality/ reproductive freedom to be “terrifying and debilitating ” as well?


  22. Holding elections and having a parliament are mere trappings of democracy. Embracing tolerance and pluralism are the signs of a true democracy. So if Tommy Franks demands that the Iraqis live in multi-cultural neighborhoods, Iraq will finally taste democracy.

  23. So, did the Western world not have democracy a hundred years ago?

    Perhaps a better summary is that countries without modern attitudes toward gender equity and sexuality will have trouble with what modern westerners regard as democratic ideals. Actual democratic ideals long predate gender rationalism.

    Indeed the arrow of causation seems to run the other way with, women (as with other minority groups) finding it easier to leverage private nonpolitical power into public political power and to seize equity under democracy than under other forms of government. Considering history, it is more believable that a couple hundred years of democracy will get you gender equity than that a momentary commitment to gender equity will get you democracy.

  24. Well spoken, Grant. You hit the proverbial nail you-know-where.

    To say that a nation doesn’t have Democracy because they don’t subscribe to left wing beliefs about gender equality (read that as gender “equity”, folks), etc. is ridiculous. Any semblance of equality came about BECAUSE of the democratic ideal. Once the “trappings” of a democracy and freedom are in place, people ahve the option of questioning the status quo. THAT is what brings about equality. NOT the other way around. happens every time.

  25. same is equally true for homosexual and alternative sexualities

    You nailed it Gillespie. Here in the US these factors aren’t so much “gateways to democracy” as they are measuring sticks. That women are held in such low regard in Muslim held countries doesn’t bode well for Bush’s idea that once sewn the seeds of democracy will flourish. It’s culture vs. social climate maybe?

    scandinavia vs. southern states, for example

    We may still like our gays in the closet here in the deep south – but we do let our women folk have educations and vote.

    did the Western world not have democracy a hundred years ago?

    Pretty much no. It’s only in the last century that true socalized democracy became avaiable even in the progressive West.

  26. I don’t buy the gender gap explanation. Grant’s point concerning causation is important. The cultural fault line is much deeper.

    The fundamental issues always deal with the ego – the very individual. Individualism is a Western concept. Respect for the individual -> democracy -> feminism -> sexual revolution.

    Striking a balance between the rights of the individual and the responsibilities to the group is not yet a cultural expectation or conversation enjoyed in most other cultures. The Muslim world, like most orthodox religious worlds, is threatened by the it.

    Moreover, Nick’s point is scary: Can dipping into our wallets cause Saudi radicals to suddenly care enough for themselves that they see self-destruction as unwise? Will our dollars and lives prompt these same men to recognize women as equals?

    If we want to foster democracy – and the social benefits and peace that may come of it – we might be better off showing them how they can build lives and hopes for themselves, men and women.

  27. Holding elections and having a parliament aren’t merely the trappings of democratic governance, they are democratic governance. Tolerance and gender equity would be better labeled “liberal values,” since they have no necessary relationship to democracy. Ancient Athens was a purer democracy than any living person has seen, but that didn’t prevent Socrates from being executed.

  28. The objections that immediately came to mind upon reading Nick’s post have already been well covered, so I think I’ll be a bit of a devil’s advocate and point out that while, sure, equal treatment of women and gays is hardly necessary to develop democracy, but what if we try to impose these “liberal values” on Iraq as part of the democracy deal? For instance, would we accept a democracy in Iraq that doesn’t allow women to vote or hold office? I hesitate to get into the prediction bizz, but the issue Nick raised could very well be a problem depending on how much of our current *idea* of what democracy’s about we try to impose on Iraq, and on how much backlash towards democratic institutions is created as a result.

  29. In all of the discussion about “democracy” in other countries, it amazes me that most people ignore the obvious point that “democracy” and “freedom” are very different ideas. While they do TEND to correlate, you can have a very unfree society that is democratic.

    Just because 50-percent-plus-one want something doesn’t make it consistent with freedom. Democracy is simply the notion that the majority rules (through some system of controlling the power, even if it’s indirect). If the majority want a repressive government, that’s still democracy.

    On the other hand, you could have a state that was ruled by a monarch or even owned by a for-profit corporation which allowed people to have freedom which goes far beyond what we enjoy in the United States today.

    Yes, democracy and freedom tend to correlate, BUT it’s wrong to assume they’re the same. I couldn’t care less about democracy, in principle, but I care a great deal about freedom. It’s a free world that I want, not necessarily just a democractic one.

  30. I’ll certainly agree with your “measuring stick” idea, April, if not necessarily with the whole of your post. My worry is that zealous idealists are going to try to impose the measuing stick rather than a real constitutional democracy that might take a few decades of hard work to measure up.

    Nigh-universal suffrage is one of democracy’s great achievements, and the world generally and the Middle East particularly would be immeasurably enriched by gender equity. But these changes happened in the West only when they became inevitable, and they took a century to complete (depending on where you set your endpoints). One of the annoying properties of dynamic governments is that any change that is not inevitable is temporary.

    We’d do much better pushing for the institutions that make gender equity inevitable — freedom of association and petition, widespread or universal literacy, universal rule of and recourse to law, nearly full employment — than pushing for gender equity which will not last out the decade without those institutions, or whose maintainance will conflict with democracy. Of course if we could get both, that would be ducky, but I’m somewhat skeptical that the US and its pet Iraqis are up to that much social heavy lifting.

  31. Whatever Iraq ends up looking like, it’ll probably be worlds more liberal than the governments of some of our middle-eastern allies. If we went for full-blown liberal pluralistic democracy in Iraq we’d be laughed out of the country, and we could undermine the dictatorial tyrannies of our allies in the region, which we prop up for purely practical reasons.

  32. Eric,

    Or keep Athenians from owning slaves or fighting a war for empire in Sicily.

    Or committing genocide against the Melians:

    When Athens demanded that the Melians submit to its rule, the Melians argued, according to Thucydides, that “[i]t may be to your interest to be our masters, but how can it be ours to be your slaves?” After their defeat, the “Athenians thereupon put to death all [Melians] who were of military age, and made slaves of the women and children.” Euripes wrote the anti-war play “The Trojan Women” shortly after this event.

  33. I think the point that some of you hit on, is that given democracy, Muslim countries may use that to continue theocratic oppression of minority voices and the oppression of women. I do think that if the US and the UN has any say over how a ‘democracy’ is set up in Iraq, it will require equal rights for women and protection of religious freedom. However if the majority opinion is strong enough, they just may vote to change those provisions of their constitution after the troops go home.

    We must remember that the origins of democracy in the (post Roman Empire) west historically have been based on acquiring rights for land owning Christian white males against monarchs, and over time the concept was extended to include everybody, mostly peacefully through the democratic apparatus. Given that this was done without precedent, I may be hopeful in expecting it to happen sooner in other parts of the world because they now have the western example to look to. Since this process has evolved over the past thousand years, with most of it happening in the last century, if it takes several generations it will still be fast relative to history. The ‘kick start’ just might work with regards to women’s rights (presumably given the right to vote, women in Muslim countries would not vote against their disenfranchisement and it would be impossible to pass that without the consent of that 50% of the population) but may not work for freedom of religion when the vast majority of the populace subscribes to Islam.

    All told I think a democratic and free middle east is inevitable, but probably not feasible in the time frame that our government is assuming.

  34. Anonymous
    “I’m reminded of a professor’s quip a few years back” etc.

    As i’ve hear Hugh Hefner say – that’s very sophisticated semantics indeed. It should be clear that we are talking about a lot more than clothes here. But i wonder, if those societies are so wonderfully coercion free, why do we see such long lines outside western embassies ? Maybe people are voting with their feet ? Sometimes one should call a spade a spade and not bring Focault into it. You know, i dont know exactly what it is you are trying to say. So apologies in advance if i misread.

    “Well, as far as warfare, violence, and the like is concerned”
    I suppose you could carefully chose a 300 year slice of history to illustrate any theory.
    No i dont mean just the West/Japan when i say liberal. People have argued that moorish Spain, the early ottoman empire were both more liberal than the west was AT THAT TIME. Liberal ideas are liberal irrespective of who espouses them. In any case, my point was as regards the contemporary (more or less – going back maybe a hundred years) globalized world.

  35. fyodor – it’s been fairly well established that an educated populous, liberal trade policies, free market capitalism, and strong property rights, along with a stable, predictable governance leads to economic prosperity. If any one of these items is missing, a nation will not prosper in the long run. Notice that democracy is not one of the requisite items listed….

    Croesus – if the Chinese were so great, why’d they get their asses kicked by an army of only 15,000 Mongols?

  36. Anonymous @ 05:42,

    Well, you are referring to the defeat of the Sung in 1279, and the creation of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), a dynasty which collapsed due to rebellion. I was referring to the first one hundred years of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). During this latter period Chinese armies reconquered Annam (northern Vietnam) and kept the Mongols in check, while the Chinese fleet sailed the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. Overseas trade flourished during this period, and such projects as the lengthening of the canal aided in this expnasion of trade. For more SEE Louise Levathes, “When China Ruled the Seas”, Oxford Univ. Pr, 1996.

  37. Fyodor,

    “I don’t think anyone here is saying that inequality for women is a good thing.” No, they’re saying it’s an unimportant thing, and an irrelevant one to the question of Iraq’s future stability. There are consquences to having a slave class in your society, which are not good for democracy or stability.

    No one has even raised the question about whether Kurds or Christians should be allowed to hold full citizenship, but when the dividing line is gender, you all rub your chins thoughtfully.

    We did not have a real democracy when black people were enslaved, and we did not have a real democracy when women were not full citizens.

  38. SM: Regarding female voters voting for enforcement of sharia – I’m reminded of a professor’s quip a few years back, to the effect that while many Western women are horrified that (some) Muslim women are FORCED to cover their faces, which is obviously repression created by a male-dominated female-hating phallocentric blah blah blah, it’s not that hard to imagine women (Polynesian, perhaps?) who are horrified to discover that Western women are FORCED to wear clothes, obviously an evil act of repression…

  39. David Duke is a malignant narcissist.

    He invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and the trappings of power further exacerbate this. Real life authority and David Duke’s predilection to surround him with obsequious sycophants support David Duke’s grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience.

    David Duke’s personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as “victims of persecution”.

    Duke fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, and mythology. The leader is this religion’s ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.
    Duke is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people – or humanity at large – should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, Duke became a distorted version of Nietzsche’s “superman”.

    But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.

    In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things “natural” – or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to, as “nature” is not natural at all.

    Duke invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial – though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols – not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

    In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

    Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism – and the cult’s leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

    Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the “old ways” – against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon David Duke like (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

    Minorities or “others” – often arbitrarily selected – constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is “wrong”. They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are “decadent”, they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin … They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenseless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

    This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm – together with Stalin – as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

    Duke prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime – Duke having died, been deposed, or voted out of office – it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. “Earth shattering” and “revolutionary” scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

    It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of David Duke. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform David Duke like narrative. Thus, David Duke who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite – is highly unlikely to use violence at first. The pacific mask crumbles when David Duke has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, and the prime sources of his narcissistic supply – have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, David Duke strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. “The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)”, “they don’t really know what they are doing”, “following a rude awakening, they will revert to form”, etc. When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail, David Duke becomes injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized – is now discarded with contempt and hatred. This primitive defense mechanism is called “splitting”.

    To David Duke, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. Duke is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc. The “small people”, the “rank and file”, and the “loyal soldiers” of David Duke – his flock, his nation, and his employees – they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated – is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate.

    Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of David Duke. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

  40. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/20/2004 08:05:53
    To be a human without passion is to be dead.

  41. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 02:30:38
    Virtue never stands alone. It is bound to have neighbors.

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