Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Jordan Peterson vs. Slavoj Zizek: Clash of the Midgets

It was billed as the clash of the titans. It ended up being a bland discussion between overhyped intellectual midgets. People were paying absurd prices for tickets to the show down—not at the OK Corral—between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek. The Canadian Jungian psychologist was going to face off against the Slovenian philosopher clown. Why anyone thought that anything was going to come of it, I have no idea.

At the least, it received very little press attention. When push came to shove nothing really happened. Nothing was said of very much interest. The two men are symptoms of the general degradation of our educational system. They are, as Stephen Marche writes in the Guardian, defined by their enemies. Peterson has courageously confronted the police state scolds of political correctness. Zizek, radical leftist to his roots, has been taken to task for not supporting identity politics and political correctness.

Marche explains:

Peterson has risen to fame on the basis of his refusal to pay the usual fealtiesto political correctness. The size and scope of his fame registers more or less exactly the loathing for identity politics in the general populace, because it certainly isn’t on the quality of his books that his reputation resides. Žižek is also defined, and has been for years, by his contempt for postmodern theory and, by extension, the more academic dimensions of political correctness.

And they are both redolent of psychoanalytic theories, the kind that have basically gone out of style and favor. Peterson is a self-proclaimed Jungian, thus, a supporter of a man who was an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer, someone who happily promoted pagan idolatry. Peterson pretends to derive his theorization from Judeo-Christianity, but you cannot be a good Jungian and accept Biblical teaching. It is self-contradictory and embarrassing. 

In truth, Jung has been such an embarrassment that his work has found its way into the dustbin of history. The only living Jungian today is Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. That should tell you all you need to know about Jung.

If you are curious to read an effective takedown of Peterson, check on the essay by Nathan Robinson. True enough, Robinson is a man of the left, but his critique gains value from the fact that he quotes extensively from Peterson himself. It’s one thing for Robinson to dismiss Peterson’s ramblings as gibberish. It’s quite another to quote extended passages of Petersonian gibberish. Anyone who thinks that this is great thinking does not know how to think.

Zizek derives his theorization from famed French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Given that I was once a disciple of the great French obfuscator, I feel qualified to tell you that Zizek is bitterly clinging to a great deal of double talk and mumbo jumbo. Not because Lacan was always wrong—far from it—but his legacy has been largely superseded, except perhaps in France and South America, where anyone who rejects Anglo culture is a hero. In any event I wrote about Zizek and about Lacan in my book The Last Psychoanalyst.

As for the substance of the debate, Marche was largely disappointed. Neither man seemed very well prepared and neither had very much to say about the topic: Marxism, capitalism and happiness.

He summarizes Peterson’s opening statement:

Peterson’s opening remarks were disappointing even for his fans in the audience. They were a vague and not particularly informed (by his own admission) reading of The Communist Manifesto. His comments on one of the greatest feats of human rhetoric were full of expressions like “You have to give the devil his due” and “This is a weird one” and “Almost all ideas are wrong”.

I’ve been a professor, so I know what it’s like to wake up with a class scheduled and no lecture prepared. It felt like that. He wandered between the Paleolithic period and small business management, appearing to know as little about the former as the latter. Watching him, I was amazed that anyone had ever taken him seriously enough to hate him.

He said things like “Marx thought the proletariat was good and the bourgeoisie was evil”. At one point, he made a claim that human hierarchies are not determined by power because that would be too unstable a system, and a few in the crowd tittered. That snapped him back into his skill set: self-defense. “The people who laugh might do it that way,” he replied. By the end of his half-hour he had not mentioned the word happiness once.

In short, Peterson had nothing to say. As I say, it was disappointing. As for Zizek, a fully fledged man of the radical left, Marche was no more charitable:

Žižek didn’t really address the matter at hand, either, preferring to relish his enmities. “Most of the attacks on me are from left-liberals,” he began, hoping that “they would be turning in their graves even if they were still alive”. His remarks were just as rambling as Peterson’s, veering from Trump and Sanders to Dostoevsky to the refugee crisis to the aesthetics of Nazism. If Peterson was an ill-prepared prof, Žižek was a columnist stitching together a bunch of 1,000-worders. He too finished his remarks with a critique of political correctness, which he described as the world of impotence that masks pure defeat.

The great surprise of this debate turned out to be how much in common the old-school Marxist and the Canadian identity politics refusenik had.

One hated communism. The other hated communism but thought that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. The first one agreed that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. And that was basically it. They both wanted the same thing: capitalism with regulation, which is what every sane person wants. The Peterson-Žižek encounter was the ultra-rare case of a debate in 2019 that was perhaps too civil.

Marche continues:

“We will probably slide towards apocalypse,” he said. And Peterson agreed with him: “It is not obvious to me that we can solve the problems that confront us.” They are both self-described “radical pessimists”, about people and the world. It made me wonder about the rage consuming all public discussion at the moment: are we screaming at each other because we disagree or because we do agree and we can’t imagine a solution?

Both of these men know that they are explicitly throwbacks. They do not have an answer to the real problems that face us: the environment and the rise of China as a successful capitalist state without democracy. (China’s success makes a joke out of the whole premise of the debate: the old-fashioned distinction between communism and capitalism.) Neither can face the reality or the future. Therefore they retreat.

Quite frankly, at the risk of triggering masses of people, I find this remark to be cogent and useful. It’s not so much that the two disagree. The more salient point is that they see no solutions to the current dissolution of the Western world. Forget about the mewling over the environment, Marche makes clear that the problem lies in how best to respond to the only real threat to democracy: Chinese-style authoritarian capitalism. It does not make sense. It is not our way. And yet, it seems to be the wave of the future.

If you want to know what was said, substantively, the only live blog of the event was offered by Nathan Robinson. Like Marche he is anything but enamored of the two combatants. He opens his live blog with this expression of personal feeling:

You may have your own personal idea of Hell. Mine is an eternity trapped in a room with Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek. I do not like these men. I consider Peterson a toxic charlatan and Žižek a humiliating embarrassment to the left. I believe they both show how far you can get in public life without having anything of value to say, if you’re a white man with a PhD who speaks confidently and incomprehensibly. In fact, this is not really a debate at all, because these men are nearly identical as far as I am concerned. I sincerely believe that history will look back on this moment as a dark human low point. 

You might not like anything that Robinson says, but he is very smart and very clever. He is a graduate student, and a man of the left, which means that he spends far too much time trying to figure out why Communism failed, but still, he is worth taking seriously.

Is Charlize Theron Mother of the Year?

Just in case you missed the story, famed actress Charlize Theron is bringing her son up as though he were a girl. Why so? Well, the boy, when he was aged three, announced that he was a girl, not a boy. And after all, we all respect the absolute truths uttered by three year olds. The child is apparently now seven years old.

Lucianne links to the story (via Maggie’s Farm):

Actress Charlize Theron has been raising her biologically-male son as a girl even since the child told her he wasn’t a boy when he was three years old.

That’s all it took for Theron to start raising her son Jackson, now seven, as a girl, the actress told The Daily Mail:

'Yes, I thought she was a boy, too,' Charlize agrees, briskly. 'Until she looked at me when she was three years old and said: 'I am not a boy!'

'So there you go!'”

Theron clothes young Jackson in dresses because “Who they (children) want to be, is not for me to decide.

I am not reporting on this story to show, yet again, that Hollywood celebrities are functional idiots. I am not suggesting, though I am sorely tempted, to recommend that the child be removed from an abusive home and put into foster care. I am not even recommending that Theron be indicted for child abuse. 

Not for today, I am not. I am reporting the story because Theron recently complained that she is having trouble getting dates.

In her words:

I've been single for 10 years, it's not a long shot. Somebody just needs to grow a pair and step up. I'm shockingly available.

Considering that Theron is shockingly attractive and even famous, it is somewhat surprising that so many men have shown such good judgment. Considering the propensities and proclivities of some men—why we even have a fetishist, a hair sniffer, as a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination—it is shocking that so many men have had enough good sense to avoid getting involved with Charlize Theron.

Just when you were losing faith in men.... 

Should We Allow Felons to Vote?

Uncle Bernie is at it again. The leading Democratic candidate for president, a man who is not really a Democrat anyway, was caught lying about his affection and support for the Soviet Union. In truth, it’s not just that he supported the Soviet Union; he even spent his honeymoon there. Uncle Bernie has gone on the record to support Castro’s Cuba and the Chavez and Maduro catastrophe unfolding in Venezuela.

Evidently, this makes him catnip to Democratic voters.

Or course, Uncle Bernie will look for incipient Democratic voters anywhere he can. Including in prison. Now the leading Democratic presidential candidate supports giving convicted felons the right to vote. That would include: murderers, rapists, gang bangers, serial killers, child molesters and terrorists. Presumably, Uncle Bernie will also extend the right to non-citizens, because we certainly do not want to discriminate, do we?

By our laws people who commit heinous crimes are deprived of their right to vote. If they do their time, the state of Florida has decided that they can have their right restored. As you might have guessed, it's a Democratic Party program.

But, the real question is this. Democratic politicians are now promoting the idea of giving convicted felons the right to vote for one basic reason. They are totally confident that said felons will be voting for Democrats. They will constitute a voting bloc that vastly prefers Democrats. 

You know as well as I do, that Uncle Bernie and his satraps would never support giving felons the right to vote if they had the least inkling that these hardened criminals would vote Republican.

So, how do they know that felons are natural born Democrats? What is there about the Democratic Party that elicits such universal support from the worst lowlifes in American society? Why does the Democratic Party attract the detritus of humanity?

And, consider this: the Democratic Party keeps telling us that white supremacists are the problem in today’s America. It keeps telling us that white people are criminal bigots, persecuting minorities. If such is the case, why are these nefarious folk so grossly underrepresented in America’s prisons? It doesn't seem just to me. 

As you know, if the prison system was a hotbed of conservative thought, Uncle Bernie and his Democratic comrades would be fighting to the death to keep convicted felons off the voter rolls. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Medicaid for All

Thanks in part to Republican ineptitude the debate on Obamacare seems to have morphed into a debate about Medicare for All. Since Republicans cannot come up with a replacement for Obamacare the nation seems to have decided that it is not only here to stay, but that it should be expanded.

Obviously, Medicare for all is a dodge. It is really about Medicaid for all. It’s about providing substandard medical treatment for everyone, and that includes citizens, non-citizens and illegal immigrants. The plan, touted by Uncle Bernie, promises the world and assures us that we can afford it. After all, we are rich so we can afford anything. One can only gasp in disbelief at a nation with over $22 trillion in debt claiming to be rich.

In truth, for the benefit of those who think that the sky is falling or that climate change will bring about the Apocalypse, the truth is, if anything does us in, it will be the national debt. We are assured, by the best minds, that it's not a problem. That means, according to the laws of black swandom, that it's a big problem.

The surest way to increase the debt is to pretend that we are really, really rich, that we can care for everyone, and that we can provide all the latest and best medical treatment to anyone who shows up on our side of the border.

Beyond the obvious fact that putting the health insurance industry out of business will cause massive disruption, we must also point out that Medicaid for all will produce a two tiered medical system, where the poor and the middle class receive substandard treatment provided by overworked physicians, while the rich will pay out of pocket for the best care. Obviously, the best physicians will opt out of Medicaid for all. They do it already; why would they not do it in Uncle Bernie’s world.

Then again, when the medical delivery system comes to resemble the post office, why do you imagine that the same people will choose to be physicians? Why do you assume that the best people will opt for a system where the government decides how much they are going to be paid. Even today, under the Medicare system that everyone loves so much, the system reimburses far less than doctors normally charge. Perhaps private insurance is more generous, but we do not have infinite sums of money, regardless of what Uncle Bernie thinks.

A number of years ago a cardiac surgeon explained to me that he could no longer make a living doing open-heart surgery because Medicare reimbursement rates do not cover his overhead, the cost of his office, hiring a nurse, and paying malpractice premiums. Worse yet, whereas he, a highly capable heart surgeon wanted a second surgeon involved in every operation, Medicare would only pay for a backup RN.

The man was moonlighting in an ER in order to make ends meet.

If you think that you are going to receive the same medical care when we go to Medicaid for all, you are not living in the real world. Anyone who wants to control for the costs of medical care should begin by getting the lawyers out of the business. Naturally, this is not going to happen, since the Democratic Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the trial lawyers bar.

Anyway, we now have a new report about the success of Obamacare. (via Maggie's Farm) Or better, what Obamacare is doing to physicians. The study tracks physician attitudes from 2011 to 2014. It does not cite Obamacare in particular, but since those were the first years that it cast its ugly shadow over the medical profession, I do not feel that I am taking too many liberties by saying that the study judges Obamacare.

Anyway, what hath Obamacare wrought? Why, it has wrought far more physician burnout. More and more physicians now want to chuck it all, to leave the profession. Surely, this will also make it more unlikely that the best and the brightest of America’s youth will opt for this career path. Thus, Obamacare is going to diminish the quality of medical care, because it will dumb down the medical profession.

Here is a summary of the report:

Physicians may be more stressed than ever — one recent survey found that half were thinking about hanging up their stethoscopes for good. New research continues to demonstrate the demise of doctors, with burnout levels jumping dramatically over just a three-year span.

According to researchers at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, physician burnout increased from 45.5% to 54.4% between 2011 and 2014. The researchers say doctors aren’t more depressed or exhausted by their home life, but rather at their jobs.

Drs. Andrew G. Alexander and Kenneth A. Ballou isolated three factors for physician burnout, according to their research:

  • The traditional doctor-patient relationship has been dwarfed by the relationship between health insurance providers and patients, with companies standing in the way of fast and appropriate treatments ordered by physicians.

  • Doctors are feeling more cynical as a whole, because patients don’t expect continuity of care anymore and routinely change doctors.

  • General lack of enthusiasm for their work.

“It should be a treat to care about another person, but I see that too many of our seasoned physicians are frustrated with medicine, and it rubs off onto the physicians in training,” Alexander says in a university release. “Doctors have a wonderful job, yet they are inundated with numerous extraneous burdens that collectively rob them of the joy of medicine.”

Whatever could they mean by extraneous burdens? You probably know already: it’s all about the new Obamacare requirement, forcing physicians to keep electronic medical records. I imagine that this seemed like a great idea to the MIT economists who dreamt it up. But, MIT economists are not physicians. They do not practice medicine. They excel in abstract thinking… the kind that often produces calamities when translated into reality.

The story continues, explaining what is chasing physicians out of the profession:

“These are hospital purchases of medical groups, rising drug prices, the Affordable Care Act, ‘pay for performance’ in which providers are offered financial incentives to improve quality and efficiency, and mandated electronic health records,” explains Alexander. “Doctors now spend more time with electronic health records than they do with patients. Electronic health records were pushed by the government at great expense and without regard to the effects upon patient or physician health. Go into any hospital and look for the nurses and the doctors. You will find them sitting in front of computers. They are not happy, and their patients are not healthier.”

Of course, the government does not always know best. The government does not know how much time and at what expense physicians need to keep records. One physician told me that he would either need to hire staff to enter data about each patient, or quit practicing.

He chose to quit practicing.

Oppressing Women in Iran

When a madman shot up a mosque in New Zealand, the land of millions of sheep, prime minister Jacinda Ardern beclowned herself by donning a hijab. She supposedly did it in solidarity with Muslim victims. In truth, she was legitimizing an instrument of female oppression. Forcing women to wear the hijab is oppressive. Those of us who are opposed to female oppression are also opposed to forcing women to wear the hijab.

In Iran, of course, a woman who takes off her hijab can be imprisoned. And likely tortured. One rarely reads stories of Iranian injustice and brutality, because the Obama administration chose to side with Iran and anti-Semitic terrorism, as against Saudi Arabia and Israel. Thus, the bien pensant leftist media has shut down the story... because it does not fit the narrative of Russian collusion.

So, we hear a lot about the brutality of the Saudi regime. We just heard, from Democratic senate candidate Bernie Sanders that Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is a racist… which is presumably worse than the anti-Semitic slobber that leading Democrats are putting out on a daily basis.

Naturally, we are heartened by the Trump administration efforts to right the balance of powers, especially its most recent efforts to shut down the Iranian oil export market. For which Trump will get absolutely no credit.

Anyway, Amnesty International is reporting on the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights activist who has been sentenced to decades in prison for defending women who choose to take off the hijab, among other things.

Here is the story:

Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested at her home on 13 June 2018. This week, she was informed by the office for the implementation of sentences in Tehran’s Evin prison where she is jailed that she had been convicted on seven charges and sentenced to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes. The charges, which are in response to her peaceful human rights work, include “inciting corruption and prostitution”, “openly committing a sinful act by... appearing in public without a hijab” and “disrupting public order”.

To its credit, Amnesty International is on the case:

The sentencing of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in a new case against her is an outrageous injustice, said Amnesty International today.

The sentence, reported on her husband Reza Khandan’s Facebook page, brings her total sentence after two grossly unfair trials to 38 years in prison. In September 2016, she had been sentenced in her absence to five years in prison in a separate case.

“It is absolutely shocking that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing nearly four decades in jail and 148 lashes for her peaceful human rights work, including her defence of women protesting against Iran’s degrading forced hijab (veiling) laws. Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and this obscene sentence quashed without delay,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women’s rights and speaking out against the death penalty - it is utterly outrageous that Iran’s authorities are punishing her for her human rights work. Her conviction and sentence consolidate Iran’s reputation as a cruel oppressor of women’s rights.”

We await the voice of Jacinda Ardern, and of all the feminist flunkies who were proclaiming her the voice of a new kind of world leadership. Hah!

The Academic Achievement Gap

Doubtless you have heard all about the achievement gap in education. Apparently, minority children consistently underperform when compared with their white and Asian peers. Actually, compared with Asian children, everyone underperforms.

The debate over charter schools and over meritocratic admissions to certain public high schools in New York has raised this issue.

And yet, the question is: who is responsible? And what can we do about it?

Now, Paul Mirengoff of the Powerline blog reports on the debate over the issue in Montgomery County, Maryland. (via Maggie’s Farm)

Apparently, activists have discovered that there is a very large achievement gap between minority and non-minority children. The activists blame it on the school system, because, why not shift the blame.

Mirengoff tries to set them straight:

The school system has no obligation to make sure one set of students performs as well and learns as much as another. Its obligation is to provide every student with the opportunity to learn and perform.

Don’t parents, he continues, have some responsibility to prepare their children for school? Doesn’t home environment and neighborhood have something to do with it?

But if minority students have this “crushing sense of urgency,” why don’t they work harder at their studies? Surely, that’s the most effective “corrective action” that can be taken.

Similarly, why don’t families with this crushing sense do a better job of preparing their kids for school and of keeping them focused and on track once they start class?

Surely, the benefit that Asian students gain from having their parents actively involved in their education can be copied by other groups. One understands that Mirenghoff is crossing a line here. He is saying what we are not allowed to say, namely that it is not helpful to anyone’s education to blame all faults and failings on other people. Shifting the blame, to the point of scapegoating certain groups, tells children and even adults that their fate is solely in the hands of other people. It absolves them of responsibility and tells them that they do not have the power to excel.

Mirengoff is commenting on a Washington Post article, one that blames it all on the school system, and presumably on white people, while offering no solutions to the problem:

The most interesting thing about the Washington Post’s article on this subject is its failure to identify any “corrective actions” that Montgomery County schools might take, but isn’t taking, that likely would close the achievement gap. Why, then, assume that it’s the school system’s fault that Black and Latino students as a group achieve less than White students? Making this assumption helps reinforce poor performing students’ status as victims, but by discounting individual responsibility for achievement, it may depress their performance.

Thus, the issue may come down to this: What’s more important to minority students and their parents, affirming victim status or putting in the work both at home and in the classroom that has always been associated with high achievement? There was a time not so long ago when this question would answer itself. But in today’s identity politics America, perhaps it doesn’t.

A difficult topic to address, addressed clearly. Obviously, most people avoid the subject because they do not want to risk being called bigots.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Once-Great Britain's National Humiliation

In principle, Gideon Rachman is a distinguished foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times. Clearly, he is a cut above columnists like Thomas Friedman. Thus, we are slightly dismayed but not entirely surprised to see Rachman profess to know something about human psychology. In a recent column he offers his thoughts about humiliation, about which he knows very little. He is nevertheless undeterred, because he is channeling what passes for serious thought on the subject. After all, if you don’t know anything about shame and humiliation you would naturally rely on the authority of august psycho professionals.

In his column Rachman discussed national humiliation. He offered his views about the humiliation that Once-Great Britain is suffering in its Brexit process. We have occasionally opined on the topic, remarking that Prime Minister Theresa May has botched her job spectacularly and should, if she had an ounce of shame left, resign. She has not, and this does not speak well of her or her nation.

Rachman offers the picture of a supplicating prime minister awaiting a verdict that she has allowed the grand poohbahs of the European Union to deliver. Considering that most of said leaders were rescued from Nazi oppression by Great Britain, it’s a significant turn of the tables. That Theresa May would allow herself to be thus humiliated does not, as I say, speak well of her or of her nation.

She is defining British prestige and status down. Perhaps the people of Once-Great Britain are willing to accept this diminished status. If so, they are in bigger trouble than they think.

Rachman pains the scene of national humiliation:

Leavers and Remainers don’t agree about much. But there is one point about Brexit that seems to unite them: the notion that the whole process has turned into a ghastly national humiliation. Writing in the New Statesman, Martin Fletcher, a Remainer, lamented that: “We are reduced to this. A humiliated, supplicant British prime minister sitting alone in a Brussels side room
...while the rest of the European Union discusses our fate.”

He continues:

The pro-Leave Daily Mail also proclaimed that it was “a national humiliation” to witness Theresa May “throw herself at the feet of Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel”. Witnessing all this lamentation, part of me wonders why so many commentators seem surprised by this turn of events. Any mildly attentive observer could have predicted that — given the unrealistic nature of Britain’s ambitions and the forces at work — this was not going to end well.

The state of affairs leads Rachman to some unfortunate reflections on a topic he does not understand. In makes for bemused reading. His solution is, guess what, therapy. Anyway who believes that the cure for a sense of national humiliation is group therapy has gone seriously awry.

First, humiliation is an emotion — not an objective fact. To the extent that the British are tempted to wallow in a sense of their own shame, they should snap out of it. Countries that decide they have been humiliated are often dangerous to others, and to themselves. A carefully nourished sense of national humiliation leads inexorably to calls for revenge against the foreigners (and/or domestic traitors) alleged to have inflicted this terrible fate upon the nation. It is a corrosive force in politics, and often leads to a call for a “strong leader” — one who can pull the nation together and avenge the slights it has suffered.

There you have it: snap out of it. Add a few pills and a little therapy… and all will be well. It is difficult to count the ways that Rachman has missed the point, but we can try. An emotion is trying to tell you something about your circumstances. You can either decipher the message and deal with the situation… or you can shut down the emotion with pills or mental gymnastics.

Take an emotion that we all understand. If you are walking through an alley and  suddenly have a feeling of dread, of being in danger, you are most likely facing a real threat. The anxiety is telling you to get out of there or to face the danger… one or the other. The Rachman approach is to pop a pill and get over the dread. This makes you prey, but it also numbs you to all dangers. And to reality. It is a grotesque mistake to dismiss emotion as having nothing to do with reality… a mistake that characterizes much therapy culture thinking about emotion.

As for humiliation, true enough, it does lead to anger. But, it leads to anger when leaders ignore the message it is trying to send. A humiliated nation is losing status, losing prestige, losing pride and losing morale. It is leading its citizens toward depression. To which Rachman would say that they should get over it or to pop a few Prozac. Or a few stimulants, a few amphetamines, a few opioids. How better to get over the feeling of despair, a feeling that, if left to run its course will render people dysfunctional and incoherent. It will cause them to lose their desires and to think that life is not work living. Try telling them to snap out of it.

Despite what Rachman says a nation does not decide that it has been humiliated, any more than the women walking down the alley decides that she is in danger. It is not an abstracted state of mind, needing only the right medication or a columnist to tell you to snap out of it.

As it happens, when people tell you to get over it and to ignore the real reasons why you are frightened or depressed, you are very likely to get angry. Getting angry is a step toward saving face, improving status and prestige. Getting angry says that you refuse to accept the lowered status and the attendant depression. Of course, you need to point the anger in a constructive direction. If you are threatened with a loss of status you should take concrete steps to regain status. You might encourage your inept prime minister to resign and to leave the process in the hands of someone who can project national pride and self-respect.

Consider one historical example that Rachman cites. Consider China. Until recently the nation was seriously humiliated by outside and inside forces. It ended its romance with Maoism as one of the poorest nations on earth. It has undergone a major reconstruction over the past four decades and has arisen as a world power. It has overcome low status, low prestige and soul-deadening poverty to become prosperous and powerful.

You overcome national humiliation by building, not, as happens in the case of the Palestinians, by trying to destroy what others have built. We might mention in passing that international Jewry overcame the humiliation of the Holocaust by building a modern prosperous respected nation. Why is Rachman opposed to all that?

So, Rachman treats China like an also-ran dictatorship that has been threatening the world. In that he is grievously wrong:

It is no accident that the Chinese Communist party has made the study of China’s “century of humiliation” central to their country’s education system. The goal is to legitimise one-party rule, by drumming home the message that the 100 years of indignity only ended with the triumph of the communist party in 1949. Now, it is claimed, it falls to the party to continue the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese people” — as defined by President Xi Jinping.

This sense of historical grievance potentially makes China a dangerous international actor. It justifies the claim that the People’s Republic has the right to invade Taiwan, to “reunify” it with the mainland, erasing another alleged humiliation.

After missing the point completely, Rachman passes on to the United States. He does not understand that during the Obama presidency the nation was humiliated by Russia, by Iran and by other countries. The American people elected Donald Trump because they saw in him someone who would not stand by while America was diminished and demeaned in the world arena:

But narratives of national humiliation are not confined to authoritarian or semi-authoritarian countries like China and Russia. Similar claims were central to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, with his repeated insistence that: “The world is laughing at us”, and his promise: “I alone can fix it.” Yet, very often, these alleged humiliations are imaginary. Whatever Mr Trump said or believed, the world was not, in fact, “laughing at America” because of the size of its trade deficit or because of the Iran nuclear deal (two favourite Trumpian targets).

In fact, the world was laughing at America for its pathetic sellout to Iran. Obviously, nations that want to compete against America, especially the weak sisters of Western Europe, are happy to side with Iran against America. But, the cowardly Obama withdrew ignominiously from  Iraq. He withdrew from Syria and let ISIS metastasize. He allowed American sailors to be humiliated by the government of Iran, and thanked the government for treating them so well. He sold out to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and made a complete mess of Libya. We could go on. 

When Obama arrived for his last trip to China the government refused to roll out an off ramp to help him exit his plane. No such derogation when Trump went to Beijing. When Obama traveled to Riyadh for the last time he was greeted by the mayor of Riyadh. When Trump first went there he was greeted by the nation’s king.

Shockingly, the Financial Times foreign policy columnist has no real sense of foreign policy. Instead, he prescribes therapy. You thought I was kidding. I wasn’t:

Finally, it is worth doing what psychologists call “reframing” the issue. Others call it “thinking positive”. There are aspects of Brexit that Britain can be proud of. The deadlock in parliament is an impressive example of democracy in action, involving fierce debate, checks and balances and the rule of law. Presidents Xi and Putin may get 99 per cent approval for their proposals in rubber-stamp parliaments.

Great Britain is being humiliated on the world stage. Its politics are a shambles. Borrowing from cognitive therapy, Rachman suggests looking at the bright side of things, even if there is no bright side: that a dysfunctional political system shows democracy in action. In truth, when the rest of the world looks at democracy in action, in Great Britain and America, they do not want to try it at home.