Four months into the war – personal stories and broken alliances

Aragorn’s speech in „The Lord of the Rings”. The one before the final battle. The one where he screams „By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”. And then he storms the Black Gate.

This, except in real life – messier, less obvious to someone far away, with Internet, shelters and tons of waiting rooms. I would prefer to just storm the Black Gate. I would prefer for the lines to be drawn clearly for everyone to see. I would prefer not having to explain what Moscow is. Some of my plans got broken, some bonds got nearly lost, I had to reach for some pills I forgot I had stashed in my drawer. While the man I wanted to spend my life with is doing some real humanitarian work close to the front line, my feminine self waits in a safe room and cries, and then goes on to teach physics and math, and then waits some more and wonders – maybe I could have written something better. Maybe our podcast could have had more views. Maybe I could have sent my articles to other media outlets. Am I making a difference?

We all have to add a tiny bit of a voice to Aragorn’s scream. We don’t just have one Heir of Gondor. We are plenty – children of all who have been killed and tortured by Moscow in the last century. We have to scream in front of the Black Gate in one way or another, and hope someone hears us. „I bid you stand, Men of the West” – this is who we are, and we picked this identity for ourselves. Nobody forced us. Sorry, Mearsheimer. I know you will deny our agency for we are not empires, but you are wrong about human nature. We want to choose life and freedom. And at some point, we want to live in a world where nobody needs to scream, for all screams have been heard.

Heard, not muzzled, not sent to labor camps, not minimized. And not twisted for the sake of someone’s ideology.

One personal realization that hit me the hardest – some American libertarians are not libertarians at all. Primarily, they are American pacifists. American pacifists. In case it is not immediately obvious… Imagine Yuri Andropov or other KGB propaganda official browsing their files thinking „Ah, yes. The American pacifist movement, left and right. Such a brilliant material for useful idiots. We have to infiltrate them, they will make it so easy for us. Let’s give them some money. Let’s see what moves them. They think states are bad, and the USA is the worst state? They think all can be blamed on Washington? They’re not even taught proper perspective?” – and a hellish laugh follows.

I thought… I guess I thought some people I have met would be wiser. And now I am left with downright suspicions (there is a difference between an idiot and and agent)… I thought a certain think tank was on the side of freedom. Now I have to see them publish articles that are clearly in Russian interest or are glorifying a murderous ideology, silencing the fact that Dugin openly called for genocide. Or articles falling for the false cultural narrative of „family values” in Russia – without even checking the statistics (yes, that same narrative that was fabricated in Moscow as a divide-and-conquer strategy). Or even claiming it would be good for a dictatorship to own nuclear weapons. I am not going to link anything in here; it is just a personal blog post. The betrayal feels like I have fallen on concrete directly on my stomach. Oh, my young naivete! While thinking they are rational, they just cherry-pick what fits their contrarianism, twist the truth, believe outright lies. Knowing people who I thought were my friends would easily lock me up in a cage and throw away the key for the sake of their detached idealism… It hurts. Knowing I may have had a beer with an influence agent… That is revolting. And knowing that I may have endangered my own life or my loved one’s life by doing so… That bond is broken forever. To quote a recent classic, you will never see my eyes again. Not after the mass graves. Not after I believed you get Moscow… and you don’t. Not after your sneaky explanations that made no logical sense or were not even to the point. Clearly, giving in to evil got so easy for you.

(By the way, is it just me, or… if a media outlet has the word „Eurasia” in the name – isn’t it a clear wink over the head to those who understand Russia?…)

The last three months were too busy, counting in the emotional rollercoaster of war, waiting for news from the convoy, losing sleep over not getting any, then crying and laughing when I finally got a human or cat rescue story. I was teaching in a high school and in college while finishing my own teacher certification. And I tried to write. Because… You know. Aragorn’s scream. We have a duty to add to his scream.

The KGB rules in Moscow, sends teenagers to labor camps and is proudly continuing their 105 year old traditions. You can read my piece for SFL here:

My other blog post on the murderous ideology of Dugin and on the proper ethical argumentation in a libertarian framework are both on the AEC blog. And by know, I feel I should have been far less apologetic in the third article.

All of these articles are meshed into one in my post for the Polish Libertarian Association, and they have also been translated into French for Contrepoints.

We also made a podcast – the wonderful Jacek of Liberty International brought us together to educate on what really is going on one border away from where I’m writing. You can listen to it here. I am so proud of my friend Ilya, a Russian geophysicist of the white-blue-white flag, and now a President to the Svoboda Alliance New South Wales. We’ve met in our previous life in academia. It is such a privilege to meet again in this way. Ilya’s organization managed some big shipments to Ukraine.

This August, I am also going to be a panelist during the Liberty International World Conference in Tbilisi. Traveling to Georgia again is quite exciting, however… remember the devil went down there 14 years ago and is still occupying a large portion of the territory.

This has been my war. Almost… I have a friend from a destroyed city. I cannot imagine losing everything and thinking I will never see my family again. And my heart is with this boy that dropped everything, took his car and language skills, and sank deep into Ukraine – distributing goods, rescuing 14 cats and 2 dogs in one go, or being lost in a forest, because a bridge was taken down and he had to reach two traumatized women in an abandoned village north of Kiev…

If you want to help them, the link is here (in Polish, language switch in the upper right, donate button below)

I wish we had wartime action-oriented psychotropic drugs. We probably do, I am just having this life AND being a highly sensitive person. Sometimes it’s just one day after another. Remember, action. Writing. Teaching. It’s easier now with the sun.

I have to think what to say in Georgia. But what was needed to be said is out there already. It is either going to be heard or not – we will still scream, as we now all are the Heir of Gondor. Sons and daughters of those banished and prosecuted by the ORGANIZATION in the last 105 years.

Some bonds of fellowship have been broken.

I still bid you stand, Men of the West.

Do not say „Russia”, say „the gang”

I have a friend who burnt his passport this week: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-27/russian-australians-react-to-ukraine-conflict/100861512?fbclid=IwAR0KxvCKrw-YmseXtKynkBPRZMKdqIjR14kalc0bUg_Dh7Wp1w5y-aJ2O20

I know Russian emigres describing themselves as „rootless”. I know those who can only post from the free world – otherwise they would end up in a penal colony. And it wouldn’t have to be anything too provocative. Just playing computer games is enough – as you can read here, Russian teenagers were sentenced after blowing up a certain building in Minecraft: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/10/russian-teenager-nikita-uvarov-jailed-over-minecraft-plot-to-blow-up-virtual-spy-hq

What building is it, you ask? The answer is simple: the headquarters of THE GANG.

It is the gang that has been putting poison in your newspaper. Or in your coffee – if you are a really good person. It is the gang that has been controling, terrorizing and wasting Russian lives. The gang that froze any attempts at installing the rule of law, sabotaged trials, arrested citizens during conferences. They are sadly proficient in what they do. They stop at nothing. If there is propaganda to spread, dissidents to kill, students who ask too many questions to beat up – they will be there. And yes, I am writing about today, the Winter of 2022. With the current invasion, you should start to believe me. But every modern day requires some historical background, which I will give below.

The gang a century long tradition – they just underwent a number of rebrandings. They started in 1917 as CheKa, the Soviet political police. The people they tortured and executed – among others, the backbone of the Russian nation: their doctors, artists and scientists – soon outnumbered those killed by the Tsarist Ochrana. They could kill your parents, shave your head and send you to an orphanage, where you would be forced to be a number in the socialist state machine. At age 5.

Fast forward one or two rebrandings. They are now called the NKVD. Still terrorizing the Soviet Union, but also killing off the intelligentsia of other nations: the Finns or the Poles. The Katyń massacre was supposed to erradicate any possible highly educated citizens of Poland – they were preparing to take over Central-Eastern Europe already in 1940. After World War II, in the Eastern Bloc, dissidents accused of being fascist were locked up and tortured, some killed in fake processes. Yes, Stalin himself said „call them fascist”. Remember this accusation. It will be important later.

The terror lost its momentum just a tiny bit with the death of Stalin in 1953. Khrushchev opted out for a different kind of war with the free world. He realized the attrocities commited up to this point were too big to just whitewash, so he started a new brand of disinformation: that it was only Stalin who was the criminal. With the onset of the Cold War, the gang – now called the KGB – tried to minimize the horrors of communism by using youth newspapers, pop culture, infiltrating the institutions of learning, changing curicula. It took one or two generations, but they did succeed. The hammer and sickle is not treated like a swastika. High school textbooks are silent about the millions of lives lost and wasted in the East. Truth is relativized far too easily.

The soft cultural poison aside, they were still a gang of killers. However, the bulk of the killings was moved abroad – to kill dissidents, those a bit too outspoken. Terror reigned behind the Curtain, but you couldn’t talk about it. And if you did, people of the free world wouldn’t believe you, because the curriculum they learned from was a bit too close to one or two propaganda agents.

Why am I still writing about the Soviet Union though? It did collapse under its own weight. It had to go bankrupt – as Mises wrote already in 1920. And the gang went bankrupt too. This is probably the main difference between Russia and China: while Gorbachev stuck to socialism, which brought economic collapse, Xiaoping liberalized the markets just enough to stay in power. This is why the Russian criminals temporarily lost their grip over the country, while the Chinese did not.

The 1990s were very dark in Russia. Life stopped and turned into gang war – when THE GANG lost control, other mafias took their place. But power had to slowly consolidate again.

And guess who won? Yes, it was THE GANG again.

I realize many cultural experts say Putin uses more Tsarist than Soviet symbolic. Yes, he has double headed golden eagles above his psychopath head. This does not matter so much in Russia. The country lost its identity in the course of their haunting history, and is now using many contradictory symbols, creating some weird post-modern fairy tale without any objective point of reference.

But I can tell you what matters. Putin, a KGB agent, is now ruling the FSB. The chief of SVR is reporting to him and stuttering like a child. What are these two other acronyms? Yes, it is the current brand of the gang: KGB turned to FSB/SVR (foreign/internal affairs, respectively).

Why am I certain of their continuity? They employ the same people. They meet every 20th of December to celebrate The Chekist Day or The KGB Day – because CheKa – THE GANG as it was then called – was founded 20th of December 1917. In 2000, after Putin got elected, he announced – during the Chekist day no less! – that „We took the power back and will never let go of it again”.

They are not even hiding. They are not even pretending. This is not the beginning of a new Cold War. The Cold War never left. It is just that THE GANG had to get out of bankruptcy and lure some naive Western leaders with the pretense of democracy. It took them a while. But now… Now the mask has slipped.

Putin has been testing your naivite quite a lot. He has secured energy deals with the West, trying to create a base of common interest that will be hard to break once he goes into war. He tried to isolate the former Soviet republics, fuel ethnic tensions and use them in his own imperialist agenda. He did not stop from shooting down civilian airplanes: https://www.dailyo.in/politics/russia-ukraine-war-malaysia-airlines-flight-17-mh17/story/1/35472.html

Nobody would believe then he is this kind of killer.

Well, you better believe now.

He was testing the waters, creating false narratives about supposed oppression of Russian-speaking minorities, taking what is easy and trying to just figure out how much the West will let him have. One violation of international law after another, and here we are, with bombs falling on civillians.

I am deeply saddened by the stance of some American libertarians during this conflict. Now, we really do need NATO in Central-Eastern Europe. Why? Because some criminals are more criminal than others. And if you stop playing the game of war, it does not mean others will.

The Cold War never left. And yet, you are abandoning the Eastern Bloc just because your emotional pacifism blocks you from seeing reality clearly. I can see you are cherry-picking the narrative that goes against NATO… and I know why. You are dissidents in your own country. You are righteously against every war possible. Someone criticizes Washington? You are there!

But please. Stop and think. Stay rational. Your government is not the only one in the world. I bet you understand why the KGB was financing pacifist organizations in the XX century. This time it is no different. Moscow is too spreading propaganda in your feed. And their propaganda is far worse, because their agenda is far worse. Do not believe anything about NATO expansion, keeping the interests of Russia or… yes! Neo-Nazi Ukraine.

Remember what Stalin said? „Call them fascist”.

Such claims are incredibly unfounded. I have visited Ukraine a number of times. It is a troubled, hard-working democracy, very much haunted by history and wanting to assert their identity.

One of the rules of propaganda is to use a grain of truth. There was indeed one Ukrainian battalion using neo-Nazi symbolics. One battalion. Just enough for Putin’s aganda. But there is nothing remotely neo-Nazi about the country, or about 2014. Nothing. Except maybe… Not wanting to be close with Moscow.

I am quite disgusted that such narrative gained followers in the States. But again – the further away you are from Moscow, the less you understand. And you can afford to be ignorant.

Do not negotiate with terrorists. Do not help the gang.

My heart goes out to my Ukrainian friends. Next week, I will go see the Polish-Ukrainian border myself and see how I can be of help. If not, I will go to my local volunteer center and work.

Meanwhile, please pray to Saint Michael.

(For details and sources see Yuri Felshtinsky, Vladimir Pribylovsky, The Corporation. Russia and the KGB in the Age of President PutinISBN 1-59403-246-7, Encounter Books)

What was going on with me… And how I ended up speaking in Vienna

The last months flew by quickly. In the fall, I was busy preparing my paper and speech for the 10th International Austrian Conference: https://www.austrianconference.org/ I arrived in Vienna as a keynote speaker, not yet 32 years old, not a philosopher or an economist by training, and still repeating the progression of events that led to this point in my head.

I was a geophysicist in my previous life – before I realized what has happened to Western academia with its ever-present relativization of truth, whitewashing of communism and downfall of moral values. Due to my own traumas, I have had enough – and in 2017, instead of finishing my PhD, I sent my Mises University application to Alabama and my AEC internship application to Vienna. And also, I wrote about information war for the ECAEF competition in Liechtenstein. I was angry. I was retaliating. I was learning philosophy and economics online like there was no tomorrow. It was just a coping mechanism. Looking back, I realize I was in a dark place, having to say goodbye to my childish dream of being a scientist, burnt out in my job, not knowing what to do next, emotionally abused by disordered people, dealing with mass grave nightmares due to that intergenerational thing, something something DNA methylation, but honestly, why don’t they respect life, why don’t they respect the victims of communism, why don’t they KNOW, what am I even doing here, am I even supposed to be alive, I have to write that essay on propaganda to assert my existence…

This is how it started. And then, in 2018, I got an invitation to Vaduz after my essay was in the top 10 of the Vernon Smith Prize. What did I do? I am just a physicist! I was just… trying to mentally cope! And then I passed my Mundliche Prufung in Alabama, talking to Tom Woods about the differences between Mises’s and Hayek’s critique of socialism… I passed it instead of getting my PhD… I wanted to stay alive… No news from Vienna though.

Until one day in September – I got an email from Federico. I knew who he was from all the Free Market Road Shows. There’s this Language of Liberty conference, and I am supposed to fly over to Vienna and discuss certain readings – some important ones, including McCloskey, Hayek, Popper, Mises’s liberalism chapter… Well, of course I said yes. I have met some of my old friends and made new ones. I was battling a seriously toxic environment in my previous job at the time, but I tried hard to take it all in as well as I could. I still have the assigned readings on my desk. I have to read more Popper for my upcoming piece. This opportunity was more giving than I initially thought. I have learned that your developmental milestones really start with leaving your room and talking to people…

Just a few months passed by, and Federico invited me over for some winter tea in the Freedom Lounge in Warsaw. There’s a conference coming up – bringing austrian economics back to Vienna. Why don’t a submit a paper? Well… why? Because… I’m not an economist… But hey, if someone who organizes the event asks me to do it, then maybe it is a good idea… Some thematic areas deal with philosophy and more normative fields after all, and I have this propaganda essay I can turn into a paper… I would have never thought about it without Federico’s encouragement.

The year is 2019. We meet in Vienna. I have two talks and I moderate a session. The next month, an email follows – the Free Market Road Show is coming up, would I like to be a speaker? Of course! It’s 2020, we have to talk online, but there’s so much to cover. All those places where freedom, psychology and philosophy meet. How innovation needs flourishing people. Why socialism is still popular, what my experiences are and what to do. Oh, and how knowing when we are abused helps us understand human nature and human rights…

The same year, I made it to Alabama for my summer fellowship at the Mises Institute. I researched psychological manipulations in certain philosophies, and I focused mostly on how dialectics transformed from a method of argumentation to a method of manipulation. I am so thankful to all of the Institute’s donors who made this possible and offered me a piece of home far away in the South. And I am proud of myself for figuring out how to land in the States despite the travel ban (thank you, Serbia!).

That sounds energetic. Like I was making a lot of progress, and maybe academically I was, but it still felt like a fight – like I had to do it to stay alive because nobody sees me and my story. I did not realize I really was in untreated trauma all along. And being hypervigilant without any rest takes a toll on you. I came back to Europe and soon it felt like reality was… burning. Spicy-kind of burning. Every breath felt like eating chilli peppers. I did not believe I had a future. I wanted that fight to stop. I started scaring myself. The interface got too intense. My relations suffered.

I ended up in a doctor’s office, and suddenly my prescription meds eased up my amygdala so that I could breathe and function. It initially felt like having your head in plaster – oh, here comes the fight or flight response, but my neurons that lead there are blocked, and I am chemically protected. I worked hard. Stayed home and focused on getting back to myself.

I started recording a podcast with the Ayn Rand Center Romania (thank you Mirela!), and, a few months into my treatment, started a tutoring business. Back in academia, I loved teaching. And I know I am good at explaining math. Meeting people and providing them with service helped me a lot. Relations heal. Being useful does too.

April 2021 came, Federico calls me again… Would I want to be a keynote speaker in the fall? We’re having an in-person conference back in Vienna…

Of course! That’s one motivation to polish my Alabama research!

And so it happened. And I couldn’t be more thankful. Without AEC, Federico and Britt, and Barbara, of course, and without the Mises Institute, Pat, Felicia, prof. Salerno and prof. Gordon… It’s possible I wouldn’t be here right now. That is not something I say easily. But it is true.

I took a huge leap of faith back in 2017. I didn’t know how far I would come. I learned what truly matters. Yes, „I didn’t know my own strength”.

So… that’s what I have been doing – one thing led to another and this fall, I was driving down to Vienna with my keynote speech: „Don’t mess with the truth. Or you will end up dead”.

You can watch the full version here:

And the podcast on psychology and human rights I recorded with the wonderful Mirela from the Ayn Rand Center Romania can be found here:

Egoist FM (English) (spreaker.com)Egoist FM (English) | Podcast w Spotify
Egoist FM (English) (google.com)
Egoist FM (English) on Apple Podcasts
Objectivism.FM | Facebook

Note the „Egoist FM” has nothing to do with narcissism that I often write about, quite the contrary. After all, Ayn Rand also didn’t want for any other human to live FOR her.

And now… I have a lot to write. Thank you for being patient with me. And if you have any issues with… the interface – do reach out for help.

The amazing AEC team edited and published beautiful conference proceedings… Richard the kitten approves.

The world needs more dead poets

The Dead Poets Society – a secret organization where boys blossomed into men, inspired by Thoreau’s „sucking marrow out of life”, learning to leave behind the suffocating conformity of Welton Academy. Brilliant young minds who started to make their own choices – as the free thinkers Mr Keating aspired to teach them to be.

The first message, hard to miss as it’s shouting at us directly from the novel pages, seems to be – seize the day, for you are going to die sooner than you know, and you will regret not listening to your own voice. You are a unique person. And a time will come – as you mature – to be daring and discover yourself in the jungle of others’ expectations.

Some readers stop here and misinterpret the subject matter as unreasonably hedonistic or rebellious. What does it mean to be „dead”? Is it just maximizing the kick you get out of each second of your life, because you remember soon you will not be in this world to admire the sunset?

No, there is far more to being „dead”.

Welton Academy had a code that was not to be questioned. The boys’ lives were planned without their consent, which created a sense of quiet despair. They could not express who they are for they did not fully know – yet they understood the lives they are living are not their own. Still, the confinement to Academy’s rules and the required obedience to their elders was all claimed to be executed for their own good. They were praised as excellent future elites. How to break away from such conventions?

A man crossed their path – someone who treated them seriously, like adults with their own minds, hearts, passions and valid opinions. Until then, they constantly felt the tension between what they want and what others want of them. Mr Keating challenged each student to search for his own unique voice. And then, some refused to be shaped into the generic form of an American Harvard student, for they decided to live as who they are, in the excitement of newly found identity. They grew up and found the courage to claim „you do not know better than me what is best for me”.

However, this is still not what it truly means to be a dead poet. When you break away from the herd, the world will test you harshly. Those who wanted to control you will try to intimidate you, lure you with benefits, abuse you and silence you.

Will you pass that test? You have now found your own voice, decided to live your own life. Walk in truth of who you are.

How much does it cost to buy your silence? How much does a politician have to pay to get you back into living a lie?

This is when a true dead poet answers „I am not for sale”.

The members of the Society had to battle the powerful structure of Welton Academy. The choice was clear – sign your name under lies or face expulsion. Tell the truth and say goodbye to your future career, your income prospects, your family’s approval. What would you choose? Some chose to lie. Some chose to hide.

The most dynamic character, Todd Anderson, could barely speak up in the beginning of the year. Now, having found himself, a grown up man filled with passion and courage, he refuses to go down without a fight. There were so many tricks thrown at him – trying to get his signature under a false statement by claiming all others did the same, faking said signature, not allowing any form of communication between his peers and Mr Keating. All to hide that the person behind their classmate’s tragic death is one of the esteemed founders.

How to even fight a lost case? Shout out of rooftops? Even if people believe you, they will be scared to lose their benefits.

But Todd doesn’t care about what people think anymore. He cares about what is right. And he does just that. Stands on the table and speaks up.

A true dead poet.

Because being „dead” is standing up to defend the truth, even if the world is trying to shut you down.

And throughout history, in all of the political regimes, organizations, academic institutions – people were facing this choice. Every single day someone has to answer the question of „how much do I have to pay you to cover up my wrongdoings?”. And every day someone chooses to stay true to their principles, losing their career, reputation, or even life.

You are „dead” when you know the newspaper will censor you, but you write what needs to be written anyway – because it is the right thing to do. You are „dead” when you could earn the benefit of going abroad if only you agreed to collaborate with your resident dictator – but you refuse. The last century is marked with silent heroism of numerous dead poets – those who hid Jewish children during the WWII despite facing death penalty, those who spoke up against Communist crimes only to be secretly murdered later on, those who smuggled forbidden books behind the Iron Curtain even though they knew they could have ended up in prison.

You are „dead” when you are not scared to do the right thing – for you know you will die anyway; and you would rather die than betray yourself. Being „dead” means having a spine that is not easy to break – even in extreme situations. Because above all, you choose to stay in truth.

I choose Sophie Scholl, a member of the White Rose resistance movement, guillotined in 1943 at the age of 22 for working tirelessly to educate the Bavarian public of Hitler’s crimes, to be the spokesperson for all of the world’s dead poets:

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‚survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”

Being a dead poet takes a lot of energy. It is a difficult road, often marked with abuse. And yet, it is the only road to be taken in the face of oppression. This is when you do not let yourself be molded into obedience. Because in the face of oppression, there is no peace, nor is there any kind of being left alone. And a man has to pick a side.

An experiment gone wrong – Utrecht University, shame on you (again)

I am stubborn.

And stupid. Or maybe it’s just that I’m consciously testing reality in order to… Well, see for myself that the flames are hot and can get you burnt. Even though I know it already. I keep on poking. Poke, poke, poke, flame, show me you’re hot, show me you can really get me burnt, I cannot yet truly believe that you can, you cannot be that… hot… Can you?

And then I get burnt, and everyone around tells me „I told you so”, and they are right, and I’m getting out of another unpleasant dance with anxiety, and I reply „Well, at least I have more evidence now. At least I have it written black on white. At least I poked them enough to make them state all this openly”… Wait a second, I lost the flame analogy somewhere in this paragraph.

What is it in reference to? See for yourself. I wrote an article – just to see what happens. A piece I wanted to submit to Utrecht’s University newspaper (I know, right? It’s part of the experiment though):

__________________________________________________________

Utrecht University – was I really this unwelcome because of my nationality?…

…or should I explain my experience by some overwhelming ignorance of your professors, dismiss it by telling myself what I endured was not intentional, and accept my fate of a misunderstood international student?

I am going to do neither. I hardly believe I was intentionally bullied, not initially at least. However, I will not simply move on from what I have been through. I feel obliged to make an important statement:

Professors should not be ignorant.

If you aspire to be a part of an intellectual elite, you should live your life as a curious person. You should have basic knowledge that lets you make sense of the world around you. If you aspire to be civilized, you should be respectful. If you work in an international group, you should be inquisitive about other people’s experiences and perspectives, especially if they are dependent on you as juniors.

Without understanding reality, the word „professor” is just an empty pretense.

I have recently quit my PhD proceedings at UU, for after my experience I couldn’t work or imagine defending my thesis in Utrecht. Those who knew me would probably defend the institution by saying my research output was inadequate, and they would be right – after a passionate start, I have experienced a serious burnout that couldn’t be healed. However, I did try to communicate my issues in hopes for resolution – each attempt was ignored. I did need to have a conversation about what happened in my group – I reached out to no reaction. After playing Sisyphus, I decided to take the final step of respecting myself and distancing myself from a place that is not going to take me seriously. These years were too suffocating for me, and – worse of all – I did feel unwelcome because of my nationality.

No, I do not believe anyone consciously thought „let’s bully her out because she’s Polish”. For this, some subtle knowledge is required – the kind of knowledge professors in my group were shockingly lacking. What probably happened is… they were ignorant. And in their ignorance, they assumed everyone breathes and thinks like them. That the experiences of people around them are no different to theirs, and – obviously – everyone has the same outlook, views or even religious beliefs. Such unconscious assumptions has lead to disrespectful, hurtful behaviour that they couldn’t recognize due to their own lack of sophistication.

This is not how elite behaves.

And if they are considered elite in today’s word, it just proves the massive inflation of what the meaning of „elite” entails.

I came to the Netherlands after finishing my degrees in Poland, a young, naive and passionate being aspiring to be a scientist simply because geophysics is so interesting. I was innocent and joyful.

Soon I discovered that the openly Marxist provocations during coffee breaks are not some weirdly sardonic jokes, but they are made seriously. To some of you, this may be a simple slightly inappropriate political debate that tends to happen every know and then at university. Nothing too serious. Why would anyone care?

Not to me. It’s not political to me. At least not those instances in which my interlocutor has been ignorant about XX century history… the part of XX century history that junior high school kids in my hometown have to know. The part that was censored during the Cold War. The part that our families still have to live with up to this day. Why? Because someone went missing after World War II and was found in a mass grave far to the east 50 years later. Because you were not to speak about his mysterious death during the Soviet occupation. Because your grandfather or grandmother were tortured in the late 1940s or early 1950s in a state prison and were pardoned only in the 1990s or later.

When it’s you who suffers, you need others to know. You need this to be mainstream and canon. I thought I could not pay attention, but soon I started to experience nightmares with my great uncle’s bones hidden in a forest mass grave, saying that… they should KNOW.

Let’s be serious, I do not expect and I have never expected people to have the same knowledge or sensitivities as I do. We work in an international environment, where everyone has a story. What did I expect though? Some basic education, curiosity and respect. Probably. While the details of what Poland or any other country has been through in the last century are just that – details, and each one of us should know their part, the fact that a totalitarian state encompassing one third of the world has won World War II and imposed a bloody and manipulative regime onto its satellite countries is by far NOT a detail. The fact that it is responsible for a number of genocides, also on their own people – is NOT a detail. The fact that for those who did not have the Dutch luck of being freed by the US the fight for freedom continued far into the second half of the last century – and has been excruciating – is NOT a detail.

And anyone holding the title of a professor, or even anyone graduating from high school, should be at least vaguely aware of these basic facts. If they are not, I suggest to revise the education system in the Netherlands. Especially now, when we live and work together in Europe, we should be open and respectful towards our experiences.

What was my story instead? I have witnessed students openly and consciously displaying hammer and sickles on their clothing. No, I do not think this should be forbidden by law, but I do think it should be regulated by manners and education. That such clothing should be disturbing to witness, for it’s like wearing a swastika. If this is not in common knowledge, it should change, for it is disrespectful to millions of victims of communism.

Even more shockingly, the issues that I had were not understood by faculty at all. Senior researchers, members of the Dutch Academy, thought it is just a „hippie sign”, not realizing the amount of death associated with this symbol for a Polish person.

I had a professor saying „What can you know about the seventies”…. To a person from the other side of the Berlin Wall.

I had to endure some weirdly ignorant Eastern Germany jokes. Or jokes about the clothing situation.

No, they were not funny, even though believe me, I like a sardonic joke more than the next person. They were not funny because I felt unacknowledged. My own experience and suffering was invisible. And this is why I felt unwelcome because of my nationality. This is why in the end I couldn’t work here.

And to read student’s writing on how „Marx is sexy”? Believe me, leaving house at 2 am to get food is not sexy. Having someone killed and then having people lie about it is not sexy. Witnessing kids your age being beaten to death by militia is not sexy. Having to go sell anything on a flea market in Yugoslavia just to get by – even though you’re a doctor – is not sexy. And neither is hiding forbidden books or living in fear of your own neighbours.

I know, some will soon start talking about „theory versus practice” problems, which is beyond the scope of this piece, but honestly… If your philosophy gets human nature wrong, it will inflict suffering. Every single time. So take a few steps back, think about other people’s experiences… And think.

I only ask for a little bit of respect towards the suffering of others.

As Milan Kundera wrote, „The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”…

Could there be something you may be too comfortable to remember?

_______________________________________________________

That was my piece. I was… I think… Trolling in a way. I know that „university” and I wanted to see what happens if I submit it.

Well, initially, I was surprised by their positive reaction. They said they want to do an interview with me… Wow. I agreed. They talked to me for an hour. Then this email followed (I left out the name of the little girl who talked to me):

_____________________________________________

Hello Agnieszka,

How are you? Hope you had a lovely Easter.

(…)

In order to talk about the fact that certain symbols, topics or books are more sensitive to certain nationalities than others, requiring those in an international setting to watch out for their assumptions and behaviors, as well as being more open and flexible (a very relevant topic, indeed), we think it would be best to find other students (not necessarily from Poland) who are also bothered by this and feature you all together in the same article. Then it would be more about the issue than about you. However, so far I don’t know anyone else with the same complaints, so I cannot promise you anything at this moment. It looks like this will be a long-term project. If you know anyone who fits the profile, has an interesting story and would also be willing to take part in such an article, please feel free to send their contact details.

I’d like to once again thank you for your interview and also for the extra e-mails you’ve sent.

All the best,

M

__________________________________________________________________

Well, I immediately understood they want to include a hammer and sickle in some kind of exotic myriad of symbols that are „not so cool” to those weird non – Dutch people, including probably blackface and other curiosities. Like an animal in a zoo. „Look at her, she doesn’t like hammer and sickles, we have to be extra careful around her, but we don’t understand why, because we never learned what we should in high schools”…

No.

Just no.

I waited for a week in order to carve a reply. I wanted the initial anger to melt away, because I still thought (did I really though?) that there is something to win here…

_______________________________________

Dear (…),
Thank you for your reply.
(…)

However, regarding the second paragraph of your email, I think there has been a misunderstanding. Part of it could be my fault, as maybe I was too subtle with what I was saying.
You write
” In order to talk about the fact that certain symbols, topics or books are more sensitive to certain nationalities than others (…)”
That is a very vague statement, and it was not my intention. „Certain symbols” sounds like an understatement, or even a euphemism.
What I wanted to convey is that a hammer and sickle stands for genocide, and that generally educated people should know that.
If my material is to be used, I want it to be used in a separate article considering the treatment of victims of communism. I understand why it would be optimal to talk to more people than just me, but I want the material to be about one symbol – the hammer and sickle, and how much human life has been claimed under it, and how much suffering it inflicted.
This is the only way in which I can see it being used. And in this case, I will try to get some diverse contacts for you.

I hope you understand
All the best
Agnieszka

______________________________________________________

Now get ready for the grand finale:

Hi Agnieszka,

I’m afraid the angle you would like does not fit DUB’s editorial line. We cannot state that the hammer and sickle “stands for” genocide, period. The hammer and sickle is more complicated than the swastika because communism started as an economic theory/proposal, which was then adopted by the Russian Revolution. What happened later in Russia and the USSR is not necessarily proposed by communism, the theory. Stalin’s gruesome actions are not part of the economic theory many people agree or identify with (and therefore end up using the hammer and sickle as a symbol of proletariat union). Similarly, many academics adopt a Marxist perspective in the sense of seeing the world or analyzing societal issues through the lens of class struggle.

To you and other people who were victims of violence during the existence of the USSR, it is a symbol charged with a somber and painful connotation, so it’s important that others understand that before carrying or reproducing it. It is important to start a discussion, especially in an international academic environment. But, at the same time, it is understandable that, given the flaws of capitalism, some people will look at communism as a valid alternative, separating it from the USSR experience.

We can ask people to be mindful of how sensitive this can be for people from Poland and the former Iron curtain countries (which would be the intention of a possible article), but we cannot state that the symbol means just one thing (genocide) as it clearly means different things for different people.

Please give this a thought and we’ll stay in touch.

Very best,

_____________________________________________

The Beast has spoken.

I just wrote this:

Dear (…),

During the 1930s, many academics also analyzed the world through the theories of Nazism. Including biologists.
What you write about academics and communism today is no different than that.
The only difference is that Germans got their Nurnberg trials after the war, and communists did not. Which later gravitated towards pop culture and resulted in your gruesome email.

The only result of carrying out communism in practice is what you have witnessed in history, because the theory gets both human nature and economic calculation painstakingly wrong. It is not an opinion, but a fact. It has been analyzed for a century now, and the calculation debate is over. Lange’s defense doesn’t hold anymore.

And it is a complete lack of respect to reality, to the victims and to history to claim otherwise.
The crimes of communism is not just Stalin.
It’s everything that happened before him, after him and in a number of other countries.
It is appalling that – due to what today’s academics also do – nowadays children in Venezuela die of starvation.

The thing is, it should not mean different things to different people just like swastika doesn’t. Period.

Your treatment is exactly why I had to quit my PhD in Utrecht and why I have to take medication now. I want to use this email in communication with Polish embassy and in other publications, because I cannot believe it.

Please get rid of the interview, because I do not want to have anything to do with that newspaper.

________________

And… Curtain down.

Or is it? Is the curtain really down?

Seems the Curtain is still up, and no voice can pass through it…

(PS: while I was editing the blog post, I got a reply:

Hi Agnieszka,

I’m just trying to adopt a nuanced perspective, as it is my job to do so. I meant in no way to disrespect you or any victims. In fact, this is a really radical view of what I said in my e-mail.

I wish you all the best in life and your future endeavors,

(…) – so.. it was radical. Saying that a hammer and sickle is sensitive to people from behind the Iron Curtain is „really radical”…

Saint Michael the Archangel…)

After the events at the Capitol, the New York Times youtube community is disgustingly terrifying…

…I could now add a snarky „but what did you expect?”, however, what I have witnessed seems too real and too important for such comments.

Yes, the American society, diverse, divided and incessantly emotionally manipulated, is in the middle of a cultural crisis – or should I write „a cultural shift”? There exist so many factors at play that I won’t pretend to be a prophet – we will have to live to see.

Republicans and Democrats stop seeing each other as human beings. Academia is taken over by those who… Well, experienced people would say are totalitarian left. Strong words, but not thrown without a reason. Others will just describe them as „liberal” in the American sense – the twisted meaning of the word, so far away from liberty.

Yes, the war over the nation’s young minds exist, manipulation exists as well, including the gaslighting of the modern, but still Marxist-derived dialectics, where „truth” loses its meaning. You stand alone in the middle of a campus, defending reality and being called crazy for bringing up historical facts. It’s suffocating. It’s Kafkaesque. It’s how more people will feel if Berkeley takes over the world.

However, I would argue that it’s rich to claim that most of the academics that were so emotionally invested after the election of 2016 have developed political views. When I was a geophysicist in Western Europe, going out to conferences in the States, I have not heard any arguments from them – not a sentence that would criticize a particular policy or analyze its effects. I have only heard terrified whining, whispers that „the world is going to hell”, and witnessed the attitude of „you can’t sit with us if you don’t whine with us”. I have been physically pushed over a gossip that I might be a Trump supporter (I am not). Ribbons that they glued to their ID badges did not speak professional conference. But it was. Theoretically.

No, it doesn’t seem that they have opinions. At least not the lower ranked mass of pseudointellectuals. I’d describe it as knee-jerk emotional reactions. They are not left-wing. They are not anything. They just jump on the bandwagon which is mainstream in the environment to be seen as „cool”, and yes, it’s the only fitting adjective. And there’s no discussion. Oh no. Because that allows disagreement, and if you disagree, it means you attack them as a person, you hate them, you make them feel bad. How could you? The notion of objective truth means someone might be wrong. And being wrong is such an unpleasant feeling that it has to be banned from their kindergarten.

I have even heard that I am not a nice person, because I was trying to have a rational discussion…

Aristotle is rolling in his grave seeing what has been done to the notion of the exchange of ideas. Jefferson sinks deep in his monument seeing what has been done to the press.

What is perhaps the most terrifying is that the „liberal”-controlled media and universities do not see the reality in their equations. If you rule out unpleasant feelings, if you stop teaching history, if you deny the existence of truth, if you shelter the young in confined spaces where nobody challenges them, and if you then pile up hostile groups against each other, turning on their emotional reactions to the maximum…

You can easily get this:

„Of course I’m a good person! I mean well. It means that whatever I say is right. If someone disagrees with me and feels differently, they are a hateful person! They may do bad things. Like kill people. So it’s better if they die”

Am I exaggerating?

Ah, yes, the New York Times on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/post/UgzYMIS4PiJvkPRKusV4AaABCQ

A woman named Rosanne Boyland from Georgia has died during the D.C. protests. May she rest in peace.

They did not call her „woman”. They called her a „Trump supporter”. In most of the press, and in the linked NYT youtube post.

And the comments? If you’re Catholic, please go pray to Saint Michael the Archangel right now:

„Lmao she had a “don’t tread on me flag” guess they couldn’t read”, „Waves „don’t tread on me” flag. And the universe laughs.”, „lmao someone said „Dumb ways to die Part 4″ IM WHEEZING”, „aw. let me play a sad song for her on the worlds smallest violin”, „I love this song”, „The fact that she was trampled to death while carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag is hilarious.”, „These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do, one of the days these boots are going to walk all over you. Literally! :D”, „I feel like this should be on 1000 ways to die episode”, „Awwwww how saaaaad [shrugs in, “that’s called karma”]”

or „thank you for the good news ❤ i was having a bad days and needing some cheering up”

…and more of those.

Just look it up. And shiver.

I won’t even point out the inconsistency in their reactions to the June protests. That’s quite evident. It seems some lives are worth more than others…

A woman is gone far too young. She died a terrible death and left a mourning family behind.

But was she a woman? She was a Trump supporter! She was a white supremacist! Who cares! So funny! Let’s put hand bands on them to know who they are. Let’s transport them to a camp and lock them up. They’re not really people, are they? Because Trump is literally Hitler. One day, I laugh at her death. The next day, when someone hands me a gun and tells me to round them up and shoot, I will. Because I don’t feel a thing. They are not human to me anymore. I believe I am right and so I cannot do bad things. They are the enemy, not me!

Oh wait… People are dead.

Don’t let them do this to you! Don’t let them purge your humanity! Politics is not worth it. We live in this world and lift each other up by the fruits of our labor. We breathe and love and aspire. All of us. And we are so lucky to live such comfortable lives…

Then The New York Times, the government, the PSYOP, the media – they come and stir up the hate, piling living, breathing people against each other. Does it feel good to be spiteful? Does it feel virtuous? Does it even matter in the long run – for your own life?

Being so blinded that you do not see somebody else’s humanity…

Do not open your eyes too late.

That one time US elections messed up my life

As the attention of the world shifted to those few US states that are still counting, my „I’m-not-even-playing-this-wicked-game” libertarian soul (while aware of all the big picture political and global chessboards behind the scenes) thinks… What is going to change in our life? We will probably get the same coffee. The same pastrami sandwich. Love our kids, pet the neighborhood cats, get annoyed with noisy cousins. Whatever patterns of behavior we had in our life before, we will have in the future, unless we choose to work hard and change them. We will only have control over that little portion of time and space that was given to us, and we will have little power and energy at our disposal, so it would probably be wise to carefully direct these resources – and focus on what we can change… Therefore, if you’re not in a geopolitically unstable place – and you know what you can and cannot do – why does global politics inflict such emotions? Why do families break up over something that in the end doesn’t matter in your day to day life? Is it worth it? Is it worth it to put yourself through all the anger and hate, and then go to sleep in your cozy as always bed, ask for the usual in your breakfast cafe – and go to the same workplace? The only thing different is your feelings over something that is not in your power.

Yes, my memories from the aftermath of the 2016 elections are still very vivid. And this is what I obviously allude to. I was in a very different place at the time – a lonely Polish student in the international environment of academia. In Western Europe. I was slowly processing one cultural shock after another – how the atrocities of communism are not properly acknowledged and recognized, how basic symbols are not even understood – by appointed professors… The ignorance and arrogance I witnessed was bewildering, and, to top it all off, at the end of my failed contract I had to learn about the toxic world of narcissism. It is a long story – and one day, I will be ready to share it in English.

November 2016 came when I was already at the brink of a breakdown. The professors surrounding me seemed childish and were openly advocating their liberal – in the American sense – beliefs, to the point of assuming everyone has to be like them. They did not even issue proper arguments – the conversations (forced upon everyone around) seemed like emotional outbursts more than anything else.

And believe me, I do enjoy a good respectful political discussion – by good and respectful meaning one that happens when both parties agree to. One with interesting and mature arguments, conducted to understand the perspective of the other side. Ideally – and oh, how naive I was to think it is the case now – academia should be a place of this kind of debate…

Then Trump got elected and it messed up my life.

I mean it. And alright, it was a rhetorical figure. His election did not directly mess up my life. But it did create an environment too insane to do research in. Or rather, it exposed the groups I tried to work in as toxic and childish. It showed that Western academia is a damned place of hysteria, and the ideals of the Golden Age are dead.

Is my language too strong here? Yes, I do come from a traumatized place, so keep that in mind, still…

If Trump didn’t get elected…

That one professor would not greet me with „I think I’m becoming religious, because the world is going to hell”… INSTEAD OF A „HELLO”.

I wouldn’t have to worry about mentioning conferences in the States during lunches at the risk of my boss getting all heated up about Trump… just because I talked about another timezone. „Nobody goes to the States anymore” – he would instantly comment with this contemptuous tone, while I was thinking to myself how this – suddenly growing, but always present – aggressive anti-Americanism of academia, Hollywood and the media suspiciously resembles a grand finale of a successful PSYOP…

I wouldn’t have to listen to my advisor’s nervous shouting because someone got a stipend in Colorado… „Oh no! How can she go to the States when she’s an educated woman?!” Of course, because of the new president everyone in the States suddenly became jerks and educated women are no longer welcome there. Do you even hear yourself?

I wouldn’t be physically assaulted from behind by another professor – over a gossip that has evidently labeled me a Trump supporter (which was never true, and nobody spoke to me directly about that). Can I file a claim? Of course not! She made sure there would be no evidence.

I wouldn’t have to witness members of CPUSA distributing way too disturbing flyers at a conference. I wouldn’t have a dissociative episode due to my intergenerational trauma. I wouldn’t wake up with broken blood vessels.

I most probably wouldn’t have to avoid lunches at the second best polytechnic in the world. Why did I isolate myself? I was so tired of each conversation being either small talk or Trump-related temper tantrum… The world is so much more than that! Don’t you travel? Don’t you love the mountains? Don’t you have feelings? Don’t you experience life? But in order to seem like the self-and-falsely-described „elite”, you show off by childishly attacking Trump during every meal… You know you can do it like an adult? In an appropriate social setting, with some good arguments? I forgot, you can’t. You have a PhD. I should talk to factory workers instead – unlike you, they know life and can criticize politicians rationally.

I wouldn’t have to worry that a conversation about snow will turn into another shouting session. Because you know, global warming and Donald T. It’s evidently not safe to mention the weather unless you’re ready to diss the president again. And better be ready! Because if you’re not on our side, we will make sure you get bullied! Oh, and you don’t have to even support Trump to be labelled as not on our side… Not experiencing the same emotions is enough!

None of these people had an American citizenship.

My PhD was not in any kind of politicized field. It was in geophysics.

This is the picture of your universities, Anglosaxons and the rest…

Maybe… maybe if Trump didn’t get elected, my environment wouldn’t be exposed as this inappropriate and soulless. Maybe – and there was a number of underlying issues there – I wouldn’t have these recurrent panic attacks, maybe I would finish that PhD.

But in a way, I am grateful for this brutal exposure. I have seen the truth to the bone. I have seen that modern academia is not a place for a rational person, and if you choose to work there, you will have to distance yourself and wear a mask of basic shallow courtesy… Is it why people entered universities before though? Weren’t they looking for an… intellectually stimulating environment instead? Well, forget about that. It’s all in the past. And now, if you have to conceal your thoughts and background anyway, better get a job in industry. You’ll get more money, and there’s more quality control of human interaction.

Thank you for the tough life lesson, American voters.

So yes, an election outcome CAN mess up your life… In my case, when others get way too emotional about it. And when – instead of taking a few steps back and a few deep breaths, and thinking what will really change in their lives – they have to show off their politics in the most inappropriate way. Causing some collateral damage nobody notices until it’s too late.

By the way – in reality, their funding is mostly insensitive to monetary policy or changes in taxation rates. They live off grants. Sheltered. They can afford to spend their quota on Intercontinental hotel rooms while discussing the merits of worldwide socialism, because nobody taught them any history… and they didn’t have to experience poverty, see and feel with their own hands where things really come from.

It’s a kindergarten that comes with better toys – not teddy bears anymore, but supercomputers and electron microscopes. If you can play all your life… Shouldn’t it feel so amazing? Shouldn’t you be grateful for the prosperity and progress that made it happen? Shouldn’t you wake up dancing and singing that you stand on the shoulders of giants, that you have the privilege to live off the ideas that shaped Western Europe into a civilized place where you can afford to flourish? Shouldn’t you be thinking „man… I live in the XXI century. I do fascinating research. I hop on planes and live in hotels. I don’t have to be a factory worker. I don’t have to die of polio. I don’t have to die in a mass grave. I have more than a bowl of rice per week…”

And yet, these people were unhappy. They were defining their whole identity by one election result that wasn’t even in their country. They felt attacked, they had to show off they are at war, that they are fighting for a completely made-up cause while living off the same grant and drinking the same coffee as during Obama’s term… And they couldn’t even see how much it took to afford to be so unrealistic. That indirectly, they are advocating for cutting off the very branch they are so comfortably sitting on.

Because if you forget about your history, your philosophy and your provenience, you stop seeing your luck. You won’t notice that the experience of the vast majority in human history was very different than yours. You won’t even notice how ungrateful you are. And for you to have the nerve of praising communism in front of an – indirect, but still – victim? If you had any awareness, you would be so ashamed.

And how little perspective these sheltered people must have to be acting out the way they did. When the infamous, contemptuous „nobody goes to the States anymore” sounded out in an empty dining hall of a certain Dutch university, millions of people worldwide – abused by their governments – would work hard to get their Green Cards, their golden tickets to a better life. A number of North Korean defectors woke up in the States that day and cried post-traumatic tears of joy. When my „professors” called out the US for some unnamed, imprecise „terrible things” just because a man they’ve been taught to hate lives in the White House – slaves were being traded in Libya, political prisoners poisoned in Russia, Uighurs forcefully sterilized in China. And each of them would do anything to wake up as a waiter in New York and learn it was all a nightmare. If you have to virtue signal how preoccupied you are with human rights violations, why don’t I ever hear you talk about North Korea, about the Saharan slaves, about the CCP or Venezuela? Why is it just the States, which in truth is – a bit deteriorated today, but still – mostly a haven for those abused? Do you think if you had the wrong army on your soil, you wouldn’t suffer so much? That you are so much better than us because you’re lucky enough to be born in the West, so anything that is not a part of your rich world is out of your sight? No, if you had the wrong army on your soil, you would risk your life to cross the Berlin Wall and end up in Washington. As some people did…

That’s something invisible from your ivory tower, isn’t it… The distance from Minsk to Amsterdam is merely 1744 kilometers, or 1083 miles. My friends got tortured there – by the Lukashenko regime. Months of protests, people going missing, getting beaten up and raped, emotionally abused by some nameless creatures in uniforms that tell them they will be killed… None of your eyes ever went there. You only think what’s across the Atlantic Ocean, obsessed with Trump and blind to the world around you. Oh, and if only you could criticize Trump well! If only your reaction was rational and proportional!

It only tells me this is all but a show. If you really cared about human rights… Forget politics. Forget being realistic about history and the world around you. Just take a peek outside of your office. Academia itself is a hierarchical place with a huge imbalance of power between tenured professors and the rest. People are being ruthlessly abused right under your nose, their careers broken, PhD projects abandoned. And the same „professors” that pretend to care how Trump is going to be mean to black people – ignore serious workplace mobbing happening on their own corridor.

I don’t believe in any of your good intentions anymore, academia. Maybe there was a time I did, years ago, but I did not expect this ignorance and this arrogance. This pretense of virtue covering a deeply narcissistic structure. And how much certain propaganda departments messed with your heads, either directly or indirectly. You are childish and fake – or cynical and fake. Whichever it is, your beautiful minds are busy kissing up to your own mindless thought police.

So now, even though I will be the first one to say that election results mostly matter way less than we think they do, that you should focus on your own life, that the geopolitical games will be played regardless, and that politics is oftentimes just as toxic – and way more Machiavellian than academia… Even though I am openly that libertarian who refuses to play, and I am trying to see through my own politics-related emotions, and analyze the patterns and the chessboards…

Yes, there was a time when US election results messed up my (alien’s!) life.

So please, step up when someone is bullied. Stay strong and grateful. And however you voted, don’t let it get to you too much. You will only make yourself and others miserable… And nothing else will really change.

[Update: as expected, Biden won when I was editing this post. Yes, who the president of the still-first superpower is does matter in the big picture. For a number of reasons, foreign policy being probably the main one, however… This obviously was a personal, down-to-earth, will-my-morning-cigarette-change kind of post. Does it matter for me now? No, unless something travel ban related happens again. I will still stay home, pop my pills for PTSD and publish, and get ready to finish old projects. Would it matter for me if I was still in academia… out there? YES. I would be able to work better because nobody would be causing a riot around me. But knowing what I know now… I wouldn’t want to work in a place where it’s normalized to behave that way. I wouldn’t want fragile peace just because right this moment nobody is having a tantrum. I wanted adult relationships… And it turned out to be too much to ask for. ]

Gut feelings about human rights

After an intense summer and what for me was a mental health break, fall came and the webinar season resumed. I was honored to be a part of the Human Rights Summit organized by Ayn Rand Centre Romania and the Free Market Road Show, where I paneled in a discussion entitled „Rights and Duties”. What I argued? I am a natural naturalist, and I hold the position that philosophy should be linked closely with our everyday life. And that respect for THE objective truth is crucial in maintaining our inalienable natural rights. See a polished transcript below… I’m very excited to report that I will elaborate on this topic in a podcast hosted by Ayn Rand Centre Romania!

(PS: and yes, the promised post about the worst dead-end of the evolution of dialectics is coming soon)

Where do human rights even come from? Who are we to be talking about it?

Human rights are derived from human nature.

And I know there is this criticism going around, saying objective, inalienable human rights are nothing more than an unverifiable religious concept, that there is no objective human nature that we can know of.

I argue this is wrong. And that the more you look into such criticisms, the more you see the roots of them are relativist, meaning they ultimately reject the notion of truth. But truth does exist. Even if we are too flawed to know it. There is an objective human nature. And that from that nature stem inalienable, natural human rights.

Granted, we may not have the divine knowledge about human nature per se. That is a question that is even theological in nature. But we know each other ENOUGH to know how we should be treated and why, and this IS verifiable.

We actually know enough about human nature to defend human rights.

How?

We learn about ourselves by experience and by relations with others. We know when we are abused. If someone hits us, steals from us, controls us, manipulates us, we feel violated, angry. An anger already is an important piece of information about who we are. We know we need unconditional love as children to grow properly. This tells us volumes. And – because the philosophy we talk about should ultimately deal with real life of real humans – I am an advocate of making interdisciplinary journeys into the field of psychology when we talk about ourselves.

­If we live in fear, we know we’re not flourishing, we’re not reaching our full potential and we are slowly degraded into an object in someone else’s game, but we are not happy.

Why? Because this is not who we are.

We know enough about ourselves to know we are not objects, that we have agency, that we strive to choose our life path – and this is enough knowledge about human nature to start deriving human rights from.

We may not have the full philosophical knowledge about who we truly objectively are, but we know when something’s wrong. And the previous century has proven it too many times already. We know there have been very wrong answers to the question of human nature. For instance, there is no way we can force a new socialist man to replace who we are. And the trial to do this has left people traumatized and numb, left people feeling isolated, worse than, feeling like they are unable to communicate their experience… These effects are still lingering in the post-Soviet area – and we can see this today in psychological evaluations between Eastern and Western Germany. The same problems are reported by people who left individual abusive relationships where they were objectified.

It destroys us ultimately – the objectification of totalitarian regimes or of toxic relationships in our individual life. And we need to fight for ourselves. It’s not some kind of abstract philosophy, but our life we’re talking about.

So, knowing what makes us unhappy, who are we?

Experience shows us we are not objects: when we are treated like objects, we are left traumatized. We are not to be used in someone else’s game, not means to an end, but an end in ourselves.
That’s Kant and that’s Ayn Rand – but in a way it’s still a negative formulation, meaning it tells you how NOT to treat a human being.

… How TO treat a human being then?

We are unique in our agency, in our nature, in our right to choose, and we are uniquely deserving of love and respect. I’d argue that it is the personalist approach that reflects the human nature as fully as we possibly can. Personalism adds to what St Augustine and Aquinas wrote, but focuses on human relations – and learning through them.

And when we are treated like who we truly are, with respect, without violation of our life and property, we do great things. We have initiative and help others, lift others out of poverty – we have seen this tremendous growth in the last centuries.

So if a philosophy gets human nature right, it is reflected in real life results. We have a lot of data about it – and we see it in front of our eyes.

What are the inalienable natural rights that stem from the objective truth of human nature? The right to physical integrity, to not be forced into any choices, to keep the fruits of your labor, to self-expression.

Those are all negative rights: leave me alone and respect my agency, my choices, my income, and I’ll do the same for you.

What is important to say that these truths about human nature are impossible to change by any human being. This is what natural rights mean, and that is the tradition of Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, it is the Jeffersonian view and, in the religious version, it’s the view of John Paul II. And it’s the only approach that preserves human dignity, and we should be proud to defend this philosophical tradition.

Now the opposite legal approach, opposite to naturalism, is positivism, meaning whoever is in power can write down laws and these laws are legal. So if you wear a uniform, if you are in charge of the written laws in the country, if you ratify a treaty – you have the power to force whatever it is you have written upon others.

And yes, I surely am aware there are different legal systems, constitutions, ways that are said to protect human rights as they are, that there exists – more or less – the rule of law, but experience showed us they do not really work. Even in the States the traditions of the Founding Fathers got slowly but surely washed away with each Supreme Court case. And the freedoms that we are deserving of as human beings got violated. Let’s get street smart here: with power comes corruption and deception. Remember we do live in a positivist world, which means legal scholars of today believe that we can write down that you have to give away 80% of your income and it is legal, and if you don’t, you’re violating the law.

According to the truth, to the natural law, THEY are criminals for taking away 80% of your income. It doesn’t matter that they are wearing a uniform. It doesn’t matter that they wrote it down on an official-looking piece of paper. They are violating THE LAW. This is what it means that the natural rights are inalienable. If a dictator writes down that you have no freedom of speech, you still have your freedom of speech. Because you ALWAYS have freedom of speech as a respectable person with the right to self-expression nobody can take away from you. And the dictator is then a criminal.

Someone would say: isn’t it radical when you talk about… well, taking away some part of your income? Why do you already call it a violation?

Well, then where do you draw a line?

How can you be consistent in your philosophy when a little violation is OK but a big violation is too much? What do you even base your philosophy on, positivists, really? If the state can ratify into existence any law they think of, where do they stop? Can they write off your right to live?

Because they did. Last century, people in uniforms wrote down official orders that wrote off people’s rights to live. Would legal positivists say then it was the law? Or would they call them murderers as any person with a spine and a conscience would?

You know it’s not abstraction – when I go to my family grave, not everyone mentioned in name is physically buried there. One is in a mass grave far away to the East. It did happen, and it happened by an official order.

If you issue an official order to kill someone, it not wash away the FACT that you are a murderer.

If you issue an official order to steal from someone, it does not was away the FACT that you are a thief.

Because we are respectable humans with rights that are inalienable to our nature.

This is why any dictatorship, any regime, any state that wants to do something fishy, which means every state, let’s face it – they always attack the truth first. Whenever someone tries to trick us into obedience, into not questioning anything, when anyone tries to deceive us – and it doesn’t even need to be on a political scale, it also happens in individual toxic relationships – they always attack the truth first.

They try to manipulate us, make us afraid, make us stop questioning anything, make us unable to stand up for ourselves. And sadly, they have the psychological tricks for that. So we have to stay firm in defending our dignity.

If we look at the philosophies that caused so much misery in the last century, they all say truth is relative. Which effectively means truth doesn’t exist.

Because they knew that if they acknowledge the notion of objective truth, they will have to face what’s right and what’s wrong. And someone will call them out on their atrocities. And their systems would not survive it if confronted with truth, so truth must be eliminated.

To give you some quotes:

“If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and those who claim to be the bearers of objective immortal truth, then there is nothing more relativistic than Fascist attitudes and activity” – Mussolini

„The term „everyone is equal with respect to the truth” is a bourgeois slogan negating the class nature of truth, used to protect the bourgeois against the proletariat. It is a slogan that is against Marxism – Leninism” – Chinese Communist Party, 1966.

Mussolini rejected the truth. Marxist – Leninists rejected the truth.

And they were explicit about it. They knew their violent ideologies cannot handle it.

Such truth rejection resulted with massive violations of human rights. Because it was in its nature the rejection of what a human being actually is, the rejection of the respect each of us deserve.

Nothing abstract. Real life. You can see the importance of natural rights there, so don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s some kind of hardcore philosophical concept you cannot prove.
If someone tells you you cannot logically defend the existence of natural rights – they are wrong. You have all the arsenal to defend them, and I even invite you as far as to use psychology and what our emotions teach us about human nature to defend the existence of natural rights. There are very real, down-to-earth things we know about humans that we can use in such defense.

Because if we do not have inalienable rights as respectable persons just because we are humans, we do not have them at all. If we do not have natural rights, then the ultimate logical consequence is that whoever wears a uniform can kill us with a stroke of a pen and he won’t be a murderer. And it’s just not true.

So stay firm in defending the objective truth. Have a spine. Stay strong.

Dialectics: from a method of argumentation to a method of manipulation – part I

Summer fellowship in Alabama is a busy time. The southern climate – which means air in July is somehow substituted with hot soup – and being carless make exploring quite difficult, and so, during these weeks, I was mostly buried somewhere in the libraries or at my desk, expanding two research projects, consulting all the ways of making them more in-depth and publishable for a wider audience… My plans clarified and got even wider. A quick to-do list: the ethics of information war should be divided into two papers. That’s just for starters, because then identifying manipulation techniques in philosophies that get abusive is a lifetime project… Maybe it won’t be my entire lifetime, but I sure want to start, so it’s important to make it easy for someone to take over… And I did identify some manipulation techniques quite clearly: one-mindedness, gaslighting, creation of conflict… It involved reading a lot of history of philosophy, then Hegel, then Marx – and these two can make all the blood rush out of your brain. But I’m hopeful. It seems this idea is maturing.

Oh, and then there was Mises University, and while it was three times smaller than usual, it was still as intensive as I remember! I was uplifted to get to know so many amazing students from the US, greet Judge Napolitano again, mingle with faculty and the kids during all out catered dinners, throw some economic calculation jokes at professors from Oklahoma, and generally thrive in a great community. The not so uplifting part was realizing I’m at this stage of life when college kids start looking YOUNG. Really young.

But what did I do at my desk? I tend to be too optimistic about how fast I can do things! I got lost in the side projects of my research proposal, and I devoted myself to two pieces: the one-mindedness in Hegel and in Marx, and the evolution of dialectics from a method of argumentation into a method of manipulation.

And so, here is a piece about the history of dialectics from antiquity to Hegel. The next step is Marx, dialectical materialism and how it results in manipulation and abuse… And it’s hard. Because I’m in the magnificent Mises Institute, and I have to rewire my brain to write about very gloomy matters. So I’m a bit blocked.

And that’s why the next post will be a bit more light and uplifting, and I will wait for some time before I publish the second part of the piece:

The history of dialectics: from antiquity to Hegel

„Dialectics” is a big word. It has to be big – after all, it has been used to incorporate all kinds of contradictions into one entity for at least a century too long. Nowadays, anyone hearing „dialectics” will probably link it with the confusing zombie of dialectical materialism, the logically inconceivable mix of Hegelian idealism and materialism construed by Marx and Engels to gain publicity in the XIX century Prussia, where Hegel reigned as the Great Philosopher, and anyone aspiring to pitch their ideas had to amend the Hegelian system to do so.

The Soviet empire trying to take Marx seriously used dialectical materialism to dissolve the notion of truth, pass any kinds of contradictions, and, ultimately, psychologically control its subjects. To anyone more personally linked with Moscow, the word „dialectics” will automatically have this connotation.

It hasn’t always been the case – what Aristotle called „dialectics” differs largely from the exposition of Hegel, and Hegelian dialectics is still fundamentally different from that of Marx. In the history of philosophy, there has been at least two transitions of the meaning of „dialectics”, and only the latter can be used for serious, transgressive manipulation of facts.

(here is a very professional graphic of what I’m intending to do in my article):

Antiquity

We should note that any notion of dialectics comes hand in hand with some idea of unity, and it was the desire to incorporate various concepts into unity that fueled all flavors of the dialectic method. In the pre-Socratic times, it was Parmenides who first tried to logically argue for his novel, paradoxical doctrine of the unity of Being and its consequences, receiving harsh critique from his peers, who claimed that such unity is inconsistent with the notions of motion and plurality.

It is where his pupil, Zeno of Elea – and yes, he also is the author of the acclaimed paradoxes that sharpened the minds of logicians and mathematicians up to this day – steps in. Defending Parmenides, he argues in a bold, provocative way that those who claim motion and plurality is inconceivable with unity, must also see that they’re even more inconceivable with lack of unity. Zeno aimed at exposing the contradictions in the arguments of his master’s critics. He would open his hypothesis with a conditional sentence, and then show that given this hypothesis, we must arrive at impossible and contradictory conclusions. In the dawn of philosophy and science, Zeno’s exposition, as quoted by Socrates, would be as follows:

„If existing things as many, they must be like and unlike”

Things being „like and unlike” was the contradiction that would defend the unity of Being claimed by Parmenides, or at least provoke his critics to revisit their logic.

This is why in his dialogue „The Sophist”, Aristotle called Zeno the inventor of the dialectic method, to which he later devotes a whole treatise in „The Topics”. By „dialectic”, Aristotle strictly understands a specific art of arguing (not any way to discover existent reality – this comes later, with modern twists of the meaning of the word).

The art of dialectic is different that the art of rhetoric – it is arguing not from self-evident, previously demonstrated premises, but from commonly accepted beliefs – with the intention of exposing any falsehoods. In Rhetoric, Aristotle states that only rhetoric and dialectic can draw contrary conclusions from premises that are identical, but it is not to make people believe both, but to expose the nature of argumentation – to find out if someone is arguing in an unfair way.

Historically, it is known Zeno and Parmenides came to Athens when Socrates was alive. Plato later writes Zeno was indeed talking to Socrates about his argument, claiming it was conceived merely as a controversial defense of Parmenides – however, we cannot be certain this exchange took place.

Up to this day, there exist many other interpretations of Zeno’s intentions and thinking, and the Eleatic notions of unity, plurality and motion, which themselves deserve a few pages of discussion.

However, it seems that the dialectic of Zeno – the art of argumentation Aristotle gave name to – served as a way of exposing contradictions in thinking. While Parmenides indeed argued for a unity of Being, both his critics and his defenders could not conceive that such unity (or lack thereof) could consist of contradictions.

Therefore, if a premise lead to contradictions, this was an argument against the premise.

We will not see such prudent definition of „dialectic” and such careful handling of the notion of truth in the Hegelian, let alone Marxian system.

Hegel and the modern transition

There exist a vast gap of time between the Eleatics and Hegel – the transition of meaning of „unity”, „dialectic” or „contradiction” between the pre-Socratic and modern period is heterogeneous, consistent of many steps and influences. In the medieval times, the use of dialectical method was mostly limited to the art of logic and argumentation, being a part of the trivium. At the same time, contributions in other areas of philosophy and theology flourished, preparing the ground for new philosophers that could be lured by the idea of unity – now understood far differently than in the days of Parmenides.

When XVIII and XIX century came, Hegel was certainly one of the thinkers strangely attracted to the notion of unity (I discuss the disturbing one-mindedness of the Hegelian World-spirit in the previous post). The Hegelian unity, however, was more influenced by a certain Christian heresy which claimed „Man” has to be reunited with the imperfect „God”: Hegel pantheised the notion of unification into the existence of one World-Spirit.

His definition and usage of the word „dialectic” also differs from the previous standard where it’s a method of exposing contradictions. This slight twist of meaning comes from Fichte’s critique (or, some would say, peculiar development) of Kant’s dyads in „The Critique of Pure Reason”.

For the acclaimed thesis-antithesis-synthesis method of exposition, so overused in the last century up until today, including some questionable writing classes, does not come from Hegel, but from Fichte, who added synthesis to Kant’s thesis-antithesis dyad, claiming to resolve Kant’s contradictions and deliver a framework for description of change.

It seems, however, that Fichte’s understanding of Kant was erroneous, as Kant has already called the thesis-antithesis dyads he proposed „dialectical illusions”, attempting to show that they are indeed not contradictory (thus, „illusion”), but relate to different areas of knowledge or experience. In other words, they are not strict contradictions like „A” and „not A”. To give an example, one of Kant’s dyads were „The world has a beginning” and „The world has no beginning”. He claimed both are false, since the world is an object of experience, and neither of these statements relate to experience. Similarly, Kant would either argue both of the thesis-antithesis pairs to be false, or for both to be true, but under different conditions. He never argued for a thesis and antithesis to be both true under the same conditions. This exercise was meant to show the limits of human reason, and the limits of empiricism in describing the Kantian „things as they are”. It was indeed dialectic used in the esteemed ancient sense – exposing contradictions and faulty argumentation.

That’s where Fichte steps in with his synthesis, hoping to be noticed in the tight world of German philosophy, trying to resolve conflicts that Kant already showed do not really exist. This is where „dialectic” first changes meaning, and it is Fichte’s reasoning that influences Hegel the most, for he sees in his way of arguing a method of incorporating contradictions into the one mind of the World-spirit.

Yet, the most important change in meaning between Kant and German idealists relates to the notion of truth. In all of the previous arguments, truth was an attribute of logic. To idealists, truth, or Truth, is an attribute of reality, representing the realization of a given essence. If anything is conceivable, it must be part of such Truth – so if contradictions are conceivable, they must somehow unite in the essence of what IS. This is what underlies Fichte’s synthesis and Hegel’s unification. In the world of idealists, it does not matter that unifying two opposite premises defies truth in the logical sense, for they are dealing with abstract essences.

Hegel indeed takes the concept of unification to a cosmic extreme, claiming „every conflict is between two rights”, and if any notion has an opposite, it is not absolute. He never uses the word „thesis”, his triad consists of concrete, abstract and absolute. In the Hegelian system, reality is construed by contradictory forces, and all being IS their unification.

Note how we went from „What if it is a contradiction? What is true?” to „It IS a contradiction, and it IS true in the abstract, all-unifying sense”

Idealist abstractions lead to quite confusing statements – to Hegel, facts have no authority, being the negation of truth. The driving force of his dialectical method is that truth can be established by the negation of facts – what matters is verification of all possibilities and capacities before Reason (weirdly capital R). Such verification consists of unifying contradictions that determine the content and development of all reality, and when all reality realizes this way before Reason, philosophy ends.

As much as all this can give anyone a headache, Hegel had a reason (actual reason) to distance himself from facts. He was dealing merely with philosophical concepts. He claimed propositions can be negated – but not empirical phenomena, such as „it is raining”. His philosophy lived in the abstract realm – thus „idealism”. Contradicting facts and unifying such contradictions into some kind of empirical unity would seem absurd even for Hegel. In his system, BEING is abstract and absolute, unfolding in contradictions and impossible to penetrate empirically. Only in this impossibility is German idealism remotely possible.

The next transition of the meaning of „dialectic” and „unity”, that made by Marx and Engels, attempts to achieve the impossible, which effectively erases any notion of truth and results in clear absurdities. In the era of Hegel, absurdities, if seemingly existent, could have been at least defendable on the grounds of idealism, a system consistently derived from apriori reasoning.

The transition from antiquity to Hegel showed how truth in the dialectical method changed its meaning and got somehow lost in what is called idealism. But Marx and Engels, mixing idealism with real life, killed all truth. The next part of this piece will deal with this murder, and discuss how it lead to all-scale manipulation.

But before I publish on Marx and Engels, I will show you a shooting range in Montgomery. And a beautiful lake in Georgia – now it’s time to relax.

The deeply narcissistic „theology” of Hegel

undefined

We live our lives among people, forming various bonds with them. Some become our dear friends, some we only know through chess club, with some we work together and keep them at a general friendly distance, and, of course, some we wish we have never met (hopefully, just a few).

And then, some will be buried with us in one grave.

We all are unique and fascinating, with different interests, stories, aspirations and backgrounds. And different talents. If we’re healthy and respectful, we approach each other with properly set boundaries, recognizing our differences and emotional needs. Sure, it doesn’t always play out by the book… But we can work through it.

Then, there are those with personality disorders. Clinical psychologists and neurologists still research their provenience: genetics must play a role, especially in the development of Anti-Social Personality Disorder type I, or psychopathy. Sociopaths (ASPD type II) and narcissists (NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which is curiously also the abbreviation for Germany’s neonazi party) could have been made: due to repeated abuse in early childhood, their brain did not develop properly. All flavors of identity disorders and borderline disorders are a different story, as people suffering from them do not grow to be the same kind of abusers… Still, so much of clinical psychology boils down to one statement: please, if you want to save the world, love your children unconditionally.

Among them, narcissists are a special species. Their highly intelligent form is very similar to sociopaths, yet, unlike sociopaths, they feel shame, they crave admiration as their only source of validation is external. They operate on deeply rooted defense mechanisms, which make them unable to handle any form of criticism (and to a narcissist, criticism can be perceived in the most absurd way). A criticized narcissist boils in rage and in shame, and the collateral damage inflicted in this process can be irreversible (for instance, throwing away a doctoral thesis may occur as a side effect).

Now, many victims of narcissists engage in the helpful and cleansing process of survivor writing – and the Internet is rich in videos, quora groups or blog posts helping others understand this kind of abuse and live through the pain. Many of these materials are excellent commentaries on the twisted inner world of narcissists, focusing on their self-centeredness and objectification of others.

However, what is really happening in the head of someone with NPD may be much deeper than that (which also makes it less personal – survivors, it was never about you!).

The magnificent Dr Les Carter of the „Surviving Narcissism” channel on Youtube claims what really bugs a narcissist and what really summarizes his or her relations with others is…

„You are not me”.

„How can you not be me? You must be wrong by not being me. I feel criticized, I feel deeply uneasy by the fact that you are different. You should be me. How dare you be so atrociously separate from me right in my face?”

It’s like looking into a child’s brain that is stuck in the developmental stage when the proper sense of self and others has not been figured out yet.

In this case, it will never be – that is why NPD is labeled a disorder. Not receiving any empathy and unconditional love before age 5 has forever changed the shape of the young brain – and, later on, caused a lot of suffering to those who came too close to the disordered person in adulthood.

If a young child has never been validated as their own person, if their needs have never been recognized, if their only justification for existence in the eyes of their caregivers was to play a role in their own play, bring back straight A’s from kindergarten, recite that poem to the letter or go to bed without dinner (and these are just examples) – such children will never develop their sense of validity and uniqueness as a human being that is separate from others. They will feel deep shame about who they originally are, and bury it under multiple defense mechanisms. They will live just to be seen, to be recognized, to be praised, and their whole existence will hang on how they are perceived by other people. If they are criticized, it’s like hearing „you are worthless”. Even if it’s „the glass you just washed is still a bit dirty” – it still translates to „you are worthless”. It will result in a tantrum. Done by an adult. Because that sense of self will never be developed now, it’s too late.

They will in the end truly believe everything around them is about them, including the behavior of other people, how someone smiled, what he said, that he scratched his ear. Everyone has to think about them and look at them! That is the only way. They won’t be able to stand any differences. They will perceive it as criticism. And criticism means they shouldn’t exist.

„You like raspberries better than mangoes? I prefer mangoes! Maybe you’ll just hit me in the face?” – and then they won’t talk to you for a few days…

And yes, the highly intelligent narcissists, those who have picked up the basic courtesy of human conduct and learned all the proper manners by heart in order to blend in and further their grandiose agenda in the government, in academia, in industry – they will be able to hide it quite well in most circumstances, but these sick scenarios will still play inside their heads.

Their need to be asserted as a valuable separate human has never been met when they needed it the most – so now the whole world has to assert them by being them, bowing down to them, and feeling and thinking exactly what they feel and think. Anything short of that is destruction.

Nobody likes criticism – and we all prefer to be among people similar to us. But to narcissists, difference is fatal. They should be the only being that matters.

That truly is a child stuck forever in the stage of figuring out the proper relations with themselves and others. It is a tragedy, but mostly felt by those around the child… Because they will never see we are indeed surrounded by different people. And I am me just like you are you. To a narcissist, there is no parallel. They will be blind to the fact that someone else is a human being in the same way as they are.

Now, how does it relate to Hegel and his pantheistic view of the world and of man?

Before I answer, I need to disclaim this is in no way an attempt to diagnose Hegel or any of his disciples with narcissistic adaptations. However tempting, it is not possible. And also – not needed to make the point. Regardless of anyone’s narcissism (or lack thereof), Hegel’s philosophical claims on their own sound like a narcissistic adaptation glorified by the tower of German philosophy. They are based on a false notion of a human being, and, if inflicted on real people, will result in objectification and cause trauma.

So, let us look closer at how the Hegelian view of man resembles the „how dare you not be me” pain of a narcissist…

What is alienation, this notion that Marx later on picked up from Hegel? It originates from a certain answer to a very fundamental, cosmic question: Why did God create the universe?

An Augustinian Christian would answer that God, being by definition perfect and complete, created the Universe out of love and joy. God is exuberant to see the creatures He made free and unique. The estrangement from God that man deals with is moral, coming from his own choices, for he is free to choose against God. However, God, in His love for each man, not wanting them to be alienated from Him in the moral sense, provided a route for Salvation in His Son. Salvation is then achieved by individuals – the fate of each separate man is what matters.

The heresy which has later influenced Hegel (and I use the word „heresy” because it describes a view condemned by orthodox Christianity) claims that God is not perfect and complete. The Universe He created was created out of need, out of feelings of uneasiness. Man is supposed to be united with God in one singular cosmic blob to ease God’s imperfection. In this way, man is indeed God – on a quest of cosmic evolution to achieve full unity with the Universe. The alienation of man from God is not merely moral, it is fundamental – the problem with man is that he is not God when he should be God, as should everyone, consolidated in one single mind. The Hegelian use of the world „man” does not mean „an individual” – the separateness of human persons is considered evil, something that should be eradicated on the cosmic quest of unifying with the otherwise imperfect God, the quest of relieving the Spirit (singular!) from the alienation of finitude. „Man” to Hegel means the one mind of the species…

To quote Rothbard’s passage on Hegel in „Classical Economics”:

„But why, one might ask, is Hegel’s man so odd, so neurotic, that he regards every thing that is not himself as alien and hostile? The answer is crucial to the Hegelian mystique. It is because Hegel, or Hegel’s man, cannot stand the idea of himself not being God, and therefore not being of infinite space and without limits. Seeing any other being, or any other object, exist, would mean that he himself is not infinite or divine. In short, Hegel’s philosophy is severe and cosmic megalomania on a grand and massive scale”

[Don’t be surprised by how the fundamentals of Hegel’s and then Marx’s view of man go back to Christian theology (or a heretical twist of theology), even though Hegel pantheised, and Marx later atheised these notions. The questions about the origins of the Universe, of man and of evil will never escape from the religion and culture that have shaped our reality before us.]

Now, the notion that only unity can exist is what gave birth to the Marxist kind of dialectics, where – because we have to be one! – every „yes” has to come with a „no”, and somehow they don’t contradict each other, and evil does not exist – to quote Hegel, „every conflict is between two rights” . The only „evil” is then diversity, straying away from the one unified mind… How dare you be someone else? You have to be one with the Spirit… You can’t accuse someone to be an abuser… „Truth” stops existing in this framework. But… we’re not describing real life! So what actually happens if you inflict these ideas on human beings as they are, separate and unique in a world that was not made out of imperfection?

King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia is all too happy to step in here. He finally has a Great Philosopher that can call his state divine. He has an excuse to reach for more power and transform the lives of his subjects – after all, we must strive for unity in the cosmic evolution, and the state is a step in the direction of the divine, standing above all.

The language change and words start meaning their actual opposites. „Freedom” is twisted – the closer you are to achieving full unity, the more your individuality gets erased by the divine state, the „freer” you are. For you are not you, you are a part of the Spirit.

As writes Robert C. Tucker: „Hegel’s conception of freedom is totalitarian in a literal sense of the word. The world-self must experience itself as the totality of being, or in Hegel’s own words must elevate itself to a „self-comprehending totality”, in order to achieve the consciousness of freedom. Anything short of this spells alienation and the sorrow of finitude.”

Now, such statements – again, regardless of anyone’s personality disorder – are a textbook example of a narcissistic defensive strategy. Coincidentally, the total unity, the one mind, is how a person with NPD views the world… And such perception is what makes a narcissist interact to exert control. It is done automatically, in a desperate fight of someone with underdeveloped sense of self. „Truth” doesn’t exist to a narcissist – they change the notion of truth depending on each situation, all in order to control others, because otherwise, they fear they would annihilate. In their heads, they are the Man-god already, even if they have never heard of Hegel, and they, a lot of times unwittingly, strive to subject everyone to their own will, seeing anything, any difference that denies them the Man-god status as evil.

Hegelian cosmology is a framework of control, and the rationalizations used by him and his disciples are known in modern clinical psychology of personality disorders. The same phenomena exist on an individual scale, when a Man-god narcissist objectifies others, because to him, there can only be one mind that exists. The parallels are striking – it seems it is due to the automatic, intrinsic nature of narcissistic defenses – whenever they see something that is out of their control, they start manipulation techniques such as gaslighting, smear campaigns, tantrums, triangulations, what-have-you.

These techniques will necessarily have their equivalents on a political scale in forms of dialectics, propaganda and all flavors of psychological war.

Why? Because human nature is what it is, and if you try to turn it into something else, you will not succeed, you will only break, abuse and kill real humans, calling slavery freedom on the way. Your attempt to end alienation will bring more alienation, your attempt to end poverty will bring immense poverty.

Hegel and later Marx have been proven wrong time and time again. Sadly, the experiments in treating them seriously have brought humanity insurmountable pain. And now, many impoverished people still suffer from alienation, complex trauma, impaired sense of self, deep problems with initiative and self-esteem. Similarly, individual victims of sociopaths and narcissists have to go through unthinkable isolation.

This only proves that our nature is not what they claim. We are not parts of a cosmic unity and we are not one. And certainly, we are not any narcissist’s piece of puzzle. We are beautifully different.

God did not create the Universe out of feelings of loneliness and uneasiness. But did Hegel and those who came before and after him create their version of the One-minded God-man-spirit out of the narcissistic wound of not being infinite, projecting their pain onto God/Universe (you pick the name!) in desperate megalomania? We will never know. Maybe we shouldn’t even ask that about those who have passed – the afterlife, if exists, has given them answers.

We could nevertheless reflect on how crucial it is to act with empathy towards the people that surround us, recognizing their difference and uniqueness, taking interest in them, celebrating them as individuals. Our differences have brought us the division of labor, which flourished into an amazing civilization. Maybe instead of projecting our wounds onto everyone else, God included – and we all tend to do that when in pain – we should take what is best in the non-heretical Christianity – and project God’s love and completeness onto ourselves. No matter the amount of pain and loneliness you’re now experiencing, your spirit (individual spirit!) and free will has been made in resemblance to God’s, and He is enough.

A believer or not, healing from narcissistic abuse, when you learn to celebrate your own individuality after deep trauma, involves this mindset.