The problem is that most humans are not
intellectually superior or morally superior
to others. Most humans are—sing it with me—
average. That’s why we call it average.
Derangement Syndrome in Sensurround
by Lori Heine
Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
“Derangement Syndrome” sounds like the title of a Seventies disaster movie. It’s a mental condition that can be found on both the political Left and Right. And it is a sure sign of a collectivist mentality.
A recurring feature of collectivism is the cult of personality. This way of thinking reduces political reality to bad melodrama. There must be a clear-cut hero and an equally-simplistic villain. Crucial to this cult is the entertainment value of the figures in focus. If they didn’t wield so much power, they wouldn’t be so fascinating.
The very people who suffer from Derangement Syndrome are almost invariably the ones in favor of giving such excessive power to elected officials to begin with. They never recognize this, though it’s obvious to everybody else. If only their idol were installed in the villain’s place, these people would be happy.
Derangement Syndrome purports to be not a disaster, but a reaction against one. Those who suffer from the Trump variety think Nazis are taking over the country. Those on the other side fear an overrun of socialists. As Nazis are socialists, the imagined threat would seem to be the same either way.
The Trump-deranged don’t understand either Nazism or socialism. They are unaware that the two are interchangeable. So they think the two exist in opposition, and advocate fighting one with the other. This invites disaster from many directions. It is derangement in Sensurround.
I refuse to allow the antics of people I don’t know to disturb my tranquility. The voters may elect an official I dislike, but when it comes to the people who occupy my mind, I alone can cast those roles. Just because other people choose to obsess over them, that in no way obligates me to star them in the epic drama in my head.
Of course if they are in government, these people have tremendous power to do us harm. I don’t advocate simply pretending they don’t exist. But Derangement Syndrome gives them access to our inner lives. It can affect our appetite and disturb our sleep. If we allow it the magnitude of a Sensurround experience, it will take our souls.
Power often works on human beings from the inside out. If we give despots influence over our emotions, we surrender to them a degree of control. When people are cowed and beaten, it almost always happens first in their minds, and then as an external fact.
Derangement Syndrome is a movie I refuse to see. The ending is all too predictable. Fascination with power leads inevitably to enslavement by it. The only thing I want to experience in Sensurround is freedom.
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