Revolutionaries with American Passports
Published on: February 16, 2011
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  • Neville

    Isn’t this part of a broader phenomenon in which members of a group who feel insecure about their future status suddenly perceive that if they denounce their own group they can thereby instantly award themselves a permanently superior moral status?

    This has always seemed to me to work quite well as a model of the behaviors we see. For instance, it’s an enthusiasm that often hits when young people are facing the end of college, and have no idea how to reconcile the jobs they seem likely to be able to get with their own view of what their social status ought to be.

    Also, nobody ever does this without a welcoming group to run to, and of course a foreign regime in need of validation by a few emigre Americans can get that job done nicely.

    The people who go this way always seem to me to share on central characteristic – they care about their own social status more than anything else.

    Consistent with this, the most powerful factor liable to reverse their trajectory is if their chosen denunciatory group becomes unfashionable or an object of open derision. Some of them of course just move on serially to the next available ideology, religion or cult.

  • Neville

    Sure enough, as mentioned in the linked NYT article, Ms. Golinger experienced her conversion just as she completed her law degree in New York.

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  • adam Garfinkle

    Oh sure. I think F. Tonnies is the ur-source here. Gesellschaft envies Gemeinschaft. I wrote about this sort of thing in my book Telltale Hearts (1995), about the antiwar movement. Chapter 5 especially.

  • Is not the burden to which Berger refers identical to Kundera’s “Unbearable Lightness of Being”?

  • Thanks for an excellent short essay on this ever-worrisome phenomenon. A particularly noxious form of it is often (and somewhat misleadingly) termed “Jewish self-hatred,” and usually takes the form of strident denunciation of Israel coupled with calls for its destruction. Noam Chomsky, the son of Zionist parents, is the most infamous example–but when he penned an introduction to a Holocaust denier’s book many years ago, he made it clear that he had long ago crossed the line. This spiritual disease must of course be distinguished carefully from Jewish supporters of Israel who are critical of the Israeli government’s policy.

  • jbay

    The best lies are the ones that have grains of truth. Unfortunately coupled alongside mans desire for order vs chaos many are led to believe all sorts of things. Platos allegory of the line comes to mind here. Men prefer shadows over the objects which cast them.

    So we find human pattern seekers longing to make order out of a chaotic world. These weak minded humans thus turn to: conspiracies, cults, half truths that can’t be whole, etc.. The plain truth; chaos is chaos because our ability to perceive reality is limited by our faculties. Being limited we decide that the shadows of figures are the truth and deny the objects themselves.

    Square root 2 is not whole. It is irrational just as C is. Hippasus was drowned for proving this. For that reason I hesitate to throw simpletons overboard.

    Chaos is not chaos but order beyond our perceptions as figures reflecting shadows against a wall. Most people are distracted by these shadows because they are a small reflection of the truth. To un-distract them shine a light in such a way that no shadows are cast. Before this can be done we have to be honest with ourselves and honest with them. Shoot from the heart and watch the block heads crumble away.

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