99. Holding together (II)
Demolition Man (1993)—recently praised by Elon Musk—features a prissy future California where people are fined by machines for swearing; it is a vegetarian society, where even toilet paper has been replaced by mysterious devices called “seashells”—this society is so uptight that even dealing with your own shit has, somehow, been abolished. This perfectly comfortably but perfectly dead world receives a call from the real when a cryogenically suspended black criminal, Wesley Snipes, is accidentally released. Blacks are an important part of Western, particularly American, culture because they remain more barbaric—and so authentic—than whites. Part of their role, counterpoint to the archetype of the wise old negro, is to remind overcivilised whites to keep it real, sometimes through violence. Snipes dominates the hapless Californians because the future police try to therapise him back to prison. Eventually, the authorities revivify Stallone—a dirty cop from the same period—to restore balance. Violence and destruction arrive: life is worth living again.
Slavoj Žižek, the psychoanalyst-jester, has spent about twenty years complaining about the West’s Diet Coke society: the society where the real thing is completely unreal. He particularly picks on wokeness as a symptom of inauthenticity. He praises the “inner greatness of Stalinism”; his reason is not that Stalin was nice or successful, his point is that Stalin was real. But it is permissible to remain a celebrated academic and praise Stalin; people will tut and complain, but your career is safe. For us, Stalin made “mistakes”, but he is not conceptualised as radically evil. The real that Žižek seeks is, of course, Hitler. But Žižek is an entertainer; he will praise Stalin for not going far enough—but he can only do this because Stalin is not real. It is only genuinely cathartic to say: Hitler did not go far enough. The real thing—Coca-Cola, Wesley Snipes, or Hitler—is always black.
The irony of the therapeutic society is that psychotherapy is Nietzsche’s child. Freud and Jung based therapy on the premise that a non-moralised approach to a person’s problems can lead to an attitude of powerful self-enhancement: no shame, simply growth and ascension. Old-style Christians sometimes grasp the anti-Christian thrust of therapy and preach against it as the Devil’s tool for this very reason.
Why has the therapeutic society turned so rank and poisonous—so, contra Nietzsche, feminine? Therapy is difficult between men, because men cannot expose themselves to other men without being predated upon or flushed down the status hierarchy. Women like therapy because women naturally expose themselves constantly, a mating display that reveals less the more it shows. Men exist in a constant state of low-level tension and testing, usually through silence or, if younger, sick jokes or calling each other gay. Men build trust in this way, ascertaining how far they can push each other. Women, by contrast, overtly love and adore each other, while secretly sabotaging each other. Hence leftists suggest men try therapy in the hope that strong men will talk about themselves like women and so become weak.
The psychotherapist has to be the overman to treat other men: he must harbour no secret desire to manipulate and dominate indirectly—hardly any such men exist. I have met male psychotherapists who are utterly resentful, being weak men, and so manipulate their clients to failure. Freud and Jung understood that psychoanalysis was an elite product; they charged huge sums for treatment. Today, everyone is meant to be therapised and, since not everyone can become an overman, the results are disastrous. People have their beliefs and attitudes picked apart in therapy, but have none of the resources to self-create. The process destroys them instead. So therapy has become the preserve of women who want to talk about their pain—as they would have done in knitting circles and church meetings of old, now long ago destroyed by atomisation—and not a means to enhance power; it has become a new form of priestly manipulation, sponsored by the state.