Where I Stand

I’d originally intended to write this piece after Clinton won the election to explain why I couldn’t vote for her. I’m writing it anyway. It’s meant to explain where I stand culturally/politically.

I was born into a mainstream “moderate to conservative” (I put the words in quotes because I think they’re deceptive) Democratic Party household. Eugene McCarthy’s near upset of Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary inspired me to leave the fold. I became what would be described today as an “ultra liberal.” Then, with the election of Richard Nixon, I dropped out psychologically and philosophically, switching my allegiance to the counterculture. The change coincided with my deepening disillusionment with Western civilization and ideas.

In its early days, the counterculture was divided into two fundamental factions: the spiritual hippies and the New Left politicos. The essential difference was that the hippies believed you had to change yourself before you could change the world, while the leftists believed you had to change the world before you could change yourself. I sided with the hippies. By the time I was 20 I completely dismissed mainstream American culture. I saw it as dying. At the same time, the hippie image and philosophy were being diluted and destroyed by the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll crowd, who were not hippies, but looked like them. I ended up dropping out of the counterculture—dropping out of the drop-outs—and landing on the streets of North Beach, where I continued my search for what is “really real.” It wasn’t exactly a deliberate move, but neither was it an accident. I didn’t find all my answers there, but I did find many. And I came to a solid understanding that America really was in a death spiral, something that’s quite apparent now.

I remained a complete outsider—no home, no job, no ID—until the wild parrots came into my life. By getting involved with two creative projects, the book and the film, and having to present them to the public, I got pulled back into the System. (Both projects happened naturally. They were not calculated.) But I remained essentially a counterculturist disillusioned with the counterculture—not to mention the System. My return coincided with 9/11, so in 2008, I was happy to be seduced by Obama. But he turned out to be more of the same—a so-called centrist Democrat. I vowed then that I would never get fooled again. The only individual I could imagine ever supporting was Bernie Sanders. He was from the edge of the counterculture, its political side, so he felt close enough to where I stood. But I never thought he’d run, and when he announced, I pretty much ignored him. He started saying things that for so long had needed to be said, and I was amazed by how many responded to him. I was riveted throughout his campaign. But the establishment Democrats had no intention of allowing him to succeed.

Since the advent of computers the Empire has become corporate and global in nature. (That’s obvious, yes.) I am adamantly opposed to the Empire, which is indifferent to everything save money and power. Its massiveness has made it the biggest threat to world peace, a healthy environment, and a sane life. Hillary Clinton, like her husband, is a supporter of the Empire. She made it clear that she would use military power to keep the Empire in place and thriving. Trump, who is a genuine sociopath (that needs to be understood), is more like a domestic terrorist. He will fail because of his ego. The Global Empire demands an ability to work with others, something he is incapable of doing because of his “disease.” He’s going to cause a great deal of harm to his fellow Americans, but it’s difficult for me to think of Trump as objectively worse simply because he is more of a threat to me personally. If I did, it would make me indifferent to the suffering of those who Clinton would have squashed in her effort to maintain the Empire, which, like America, is also in its death throes. Both Clinton and Trump are devotees of Mammon. They simply had different constituencies supporting them in their quests for power. Mammon has no principles.

My allegiance remains to the counterculture, which needs to revive itself and develop greater maturity. There is no hope for the established institutions of the modern world, which are completely off-base philosophically. I don’t care about economics, politics, or science, all of which now serve as tools for ambitious egotists. The only thing I’ve ever cared about is love. It’s the only thing that has never fallen away from me.

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12 Responses to “Where I Stand”

  1. Jeffrey C Rothweiler Says:

    Waiting for intermission?

    BTW? A psychologist would like you to define “Sociopathy” and “Egotist.”

    • markbittner Says:

      It’s funny that you should ask this. I’ve been composing that essay in my mind for months. I think I would get a huge argument from most psychologists over what I see and think on the subject. Maybe less of one from you. But then, what do I know? It’ll show up here eventually.

    • Jeffrey C Rothweiler Says:

      Hello Mark,

      Psychologists use the word “sociopath” informally. It is not a diagnostic category. It is mainly used to describe someone who, like a psychopath, lacks a conscience in a way that lends to exploitation of others. (Interestingly, they tend to lack internal push to conform or a fear of not conforming. There are those who argue that most people behave because they are afraid not to. ) Their motivation is mainly to satisfy primitive needs, with no apparent concern about the welfare of those they exploit. Such folks tend to be charming. They wear a mask that tends to make it seem like they have a caring conscience. (Think of Brando in the “Missouri Breaks,” the Gone Girl in that movie, or the junk bond king, Michael Milken.

      The popular media tend to mix up psychopath and sociopath. Difference is psychopaths seem to get a kick hurting others, are usually more reckless to self and have high arousal thresholds (Takes a lot to excite them) like Bundy, Dahmer, Jack the Ripper or the Kevin Costner character (and his daughter) in “Mr. Brooks.” Sociopaths do not so much enjoy the harm, just the benefits. Other psychologies may also look conscience-less like, schizoid, schizophrenia, or autism. But usually there is no mask of sanity. Personality problems, like narcissism and histrionic also can be quite exploitative and lack caring/empathy. The difference here is they really do want to be admired/loved. Key to narcissism is intense fear of shame. A high percent of politicians are sociopathic, at least to some degree (Bill Clinton is probably best described as sociopathic and narcissistic. I saw Hillary as sociopathic and NOT narcissistic.

      You might want take a look at your Trump issue. From my knothole, he is not sociopathic. He is narcissistic and histrionic, as well as somewhat OCD. There is a good chance he will do more good for what is important to you than have any of the last several presidents.

      Jeff

  2. markbittner Says:

    One of my projected opening lines in the essay I would write one day goes along the lines of “I’ve been using the word sociopath a lot lately, but it’s not really the word I want. I use it only because it has a heavy charge. The term I would actually use carries less of an overt charge, but is entirely sinister.” But I’m too busy working on my book to get into this at the moment. I will say that I don’t believe in the distinctions of narcissist, sociopath, psychopath. I think science errs here. What we’re talking about is different flavors of the “total egotist.” I’ve had two intimate encounters with them in my life. It’s not a disease. It’s a decision made by the free will. (They were intimate with me because the saw that I was paying attention, and they assumed that anybody who was paying attention came to the same conclusions they had.)

  3. Susie O'Shea Says:

    I agree. Clinton is pro-war, pro-fracking, pro-gmo. In fact, the only major difference between Clinton and Trump is that she probably would have been more effective given her lifelong experience as a two-faced wheeler dealer. The good news is if Clinton had won, we probably would have had her for 8 years. Hopefully in 2020 we will wake up and gain 2020 vision and elect someone with vision. I campaigned for Sanders, voted for Stein. More 18 to 30 year olds voted for Sanders than Trump and Clinton combined. That’s a good sign. Check our new Senator-elect Kamila Harris’s acceptance speech on you-tube. It’s very powerful.

  4. Jeffrey C Rothweiler Says:

    Mark,

    I agree that labels are not very useful. As behavioral descriptors, these terms can help me to usefully clarify some maladaptive coping patterns/tendencies people occupy, interpersonal niches. Examples are narcissistic rigid attraction to perfect self-reflection and narcissistic severe aversion to shame experience.

    Jesus and Buddha, identify ongoing compassion as key in liberation, as the conscious choice that frees the giver (as I believe you imply). Both affirm Nirvana is occupied by the small, rather than LARGE, i. And, as you know, both encourage mindfulness on the internal, as opposed to fault finding and in-moderate gratification from externals. Both forgo judgmental notions of opposing underlying “evil.”

    Anyway, sounds like you were stung by a couple of predators(?). What do you take away?

    Mindfully yours,

    Jeff

    • markbittner Says:

      I’ll go into the particulars on one of them in my book. The other would have to die before I’d write about him. That’s a possibility, however.

  5. Susie O'Shea Says:

    12/27 I wrote comment. The site has said for this past week that my comment is awaiting moderation. What does that mean??? I didn’t use foul language or say anything extreme. What needs moderation? Who is going to do it and when? My comments were not critical of Mark or contentious.

    • markbittner Says:

      I usually get an email when someone comments for the first time. I have to approve the person. I never got an email for your first comment, so I wasn’t aware of it. A glitch of some sort.

  6. Bob Says:

    Read Max Stirner, it will put your mind at ease.

  7. Bob Says:

    As a long time SF resident, how do you feel about Anton LaVey?

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