If it Feels Like Our Societies Are Losing Their Minds, That’s Because They Are
How Our Societies Have Been Mentally Poisoned — And Why They’re Turning Fascist
Written by Umair Haque and published in Medium.com 4/20/2022
If I had to pick a day that was a case study in the entire planet turning far right, that day would be yesterday. Why?
A 35 year old judge — ranked as “Not Qualified” by the American Bar Association — overturned the entire nation’s mask mandate during travel in America. The entire country’s. This wasn’t a judicial decision — it was a political one. She was appointed by Donald Trump, and married to one of his senior figures. This was a political decision made via nepotism, which suddenly changed the fate of the entire country.
Even though the far right’s not in power, it still manages to have power. More power than the rest. That is one thing a far right planet means, and it matters, because it says that the planet’s centre of political gravity has shifted so far to the right that the world hasn’t seen anything like it since the 1930s. An unqualified judge appointed by a President who led a bloody coup basically overturned the entire public health policy of America. Think about that for a second. Really think about it. The far right has more power than the rest of us even when it’s not in power — because it’s captured our institutions, and perverted them.
But that was just the beginning. What happened next was like a scene from a horror movie. In mid flight, airlines told people they should remove their masks. And cheering and applauding, they took them off. What level of idiocy is this? It’s beyond idiocy. Far beyond it. It is malignancy, of the narcissistic Machiavellian kind. It is the Dark Triad in action. Why?
Imagine that you were on one of those flights. And you were in any one of a number of groups at serious and severe risk from Covid. A cancer patient. Immunocompromised. Just elderly and frail. Young and ill with a serious disease. These people were cheering and applauding for your death.
No, nobody can claim ignorance. Not two and some years into a pandemic. We all know that certain people are still at severe risk, and there are many of them. To cheer and applaud and take off your mask while those people might be trapped in a tin can at 35,000 feet breathing recycled air is nothing short of a deathwish. It is seriously and badly psychologically warped.
Let me trace what I’m trying to say more formally. The far right has power even when it’s not in power. It abuses that power — to do things like overturn public health policies designed by doctors and scientists…at the hands of literally unqualified judges. And then people are licensed. Norms change. Social behaviour changes. A certain electric current runs through them.
It’s OK to hurt people. It’s good and right and justified. It’s fun. It feels good.
The far right has made it OK to want to hurt people. Our societies are falling apart as a result.
Let me give you another example. A State Senator named Mallory McMorrow faced another tactic that’s become normalised in our societies now. She was smeared as a pedophile. She’s — in her own words — “A Christian suburban mom.” Why did they smear her? Because they could. Because it’s OK to hurt people now.
Increasingly, anything goes. Perfectly normal to smear a mom as a pedophile just because she sits across the political aisle from you. It’s not normal. It’s not OK. It’s badly, badly wrong — and in a democracy, for a democracy, it is slitting its throat.
The far right is making people lose their minds. I mean that in a formal sense, too. In a democracy, we have certain norms and codes. We don’t want to hurt people. That is the fundamental code which governs social behaviour. We act in good faith, not bad faith. We don’t deliberately tell lies about people — we speak truths about them. We don’t act with malice, but with a certain level of kindness and dedication to the truth.
Why do we have those norms? Because they enact what democracy is. Democracy isn’t just voting. In Rwanda, the President “wins” 99.8% of the vote — but it’s not a democracy. Democracy is the living, breathing expression of a certain set of values. Truth, justice, equality, law, freedom.
We don’t lie about other people, act in bad faith, be deliberately malicious towards them because it is fundamentally anti-democratic.
What are these forms of behaviour, really? If a child did them, we’d call them “bullying.” But these aren’t children. The people clapping and applauding taking off masks on planes — with zero regard for anyone but themselves — are not children. They are adults. And when adults engage in these forms of behaviour, we place them on a spectrum of violence. That spectrum ranges from aggression to hostility to real harm.
That is where our societies are now. Grown adults have lost their minds. The far right has goaded them on the one hand, to see everyone else as a scapegoat. With the other, it has licensed them to act with malice, to do violence. The result is that people are being driven mad with hate.
I really mean that. It is not remotely normal or OK in a democratic, civilized society for people to cheer and applaud the potential death of their fellow citizens. Especially the vulnerable. It’s not OK to smear your fellow politicians as pedophiles — the attack made on Mallory McMorrow, Ketanji Brown Jackson, which stems from the lunatic conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton drinks kids bloods after Satanically ritually abusing them.
People are losing their minds. They are becoming incapable of acting like responsible adults in a democracy. Having a shred of concern for others. Telling the truth or seeking it. Regarding others as equals — not things to subjugate. Respecting the freedoms of others, like bodily autonomy.
The far right has told them that these things do not matter. That their fellow citizens are now their enemies. Things to destroy and wish death on.
And so the average person is increasingly unmoored from the basic norms of a civilized, democratic society. Anything goes, they feel. The far right has goaded, licensed, impelled, tortured them with lies…until they are quite literally losing their minds. Their democratic minds, their modern minds, their social minds.
All that is left in the place of those minds is the atavistic impulse to hate. To destroy. To ruin. To wreck. That impulse is one and the same, from the coup at the Capitol, where the far right smeared it with literal sh*t, to people taking their masks off on planes and cheering and applauding. Violence. Hate. The democratic, social, modern mind has been shut down by the far right, with lies, with incendiary theories, with fear-mongering delusions — and all that’s left is this lizard-brain primitive impulse to destroy and wreck the nearest thing, in an orgiastic frenzy of violence, hate, and rage.
Do you get what I’m getting at? How the impulse is one and the same?
There is a set of links I’m trying to draw here. The far right tells people that, no, they don’t have to respect democracy, its norms, that its values are the real threat to their prosperity and survival and belonging and sense of selfhood. They should have contempt for equality, truth, justice, freedom. What should they respect? The very opposite. Dominance, power, aggression, lies, violence.
It’s OK to smear someone with a lie, as long as it works. It’s OK to take your mask off on a plane, as long as an unqualified judge says it — never mind anyone else, from doctors to scientists to the vulnerable. It’s OK to say that everyone you don’t agree with is a pedophile, even if you know it’s not true, just as long as it works.
It’s OK…as long as. As long as the result is power.
The far right has weaponised everything. It has coded paranoid, delusional threats into literally every last bit of the fabric of our lives. Even masks. Wearing masks is not a “two-sided” issue. I’m not sending a signal when I wear a mask. It’s an act of basic medical and social responsibility, an act in itself. But it is a message when you don’t wear one. It makes the person sending that message feel dominant.
And that need for dominance arises precisely because the far right has coded submission, fear, rage, hate into literally everything, triggering people’s fears of annihilation and abandonment, their most primal fears. When you trigger a primal fear, you get primal rage.
Our societies are now increasingly made of this primal rage, and you never really know when you’re going to trigger it. You never know when the person beside you has surrendered their mind, lost it to the far right, and will just attack you. For what? For wearing a mask. Reading a book. Saying something to someone. Looking at something on your phone.
We are all beginning to live in fear of the atavistic rage of the far right. Because the far right has coded primal fear into everything. What’s everything? I used the example of masks, so let’s take another one. Books. Now if kids are read books that say there’s unicorns should be nice to turtles or whatever, suddenly, it’s a problem. Those books are being banned. Parents are literally calling for teachers to be fired over kids’ books. Because those books have been coded by the far right as containing the stuff of primal fear. This is going to poison your kids. It’s going to take your kids away from you. This isn’t a book, this is a weapon.
This isn’t a book, it’s a pedophile in disguise. Do you want your kids to be sexually abused? This isn’t a book! It looks like a book. It feels like a book. It’s not a book. It’s primal fear. You must hate and fear this object. It is dangerous. It will take away everything you love. It will hurt everything you love.
What do people do when they’re threatened like this? They hurt back, first. They strike pre-emptively.
That is why people cheer and applaud taking their masks off. They know full well it’s going to hurt others. That’s the point.
Let me try and sum that up. The far right is ascendant around the world now. How is it winning? It is coding primal fear into literally everything. Masks. Books. People themselves, even little kids. Their mere existence triggers primal fear, because danger has been coded into it. People, bewildered, baffled, stunned by the decline of world order, prosperity, stability, believe it. They’re bombarded with the far right coding primal fear into everything a thousand times a day.
Their minds stop working.
The far right’s leaders then legitimise reacting against all this coded primal fear. They’re going to hurt you! Hurt them first. Take off your mask, and teach them a lesson! Hey, call them pedophiles. As long as it works, it’s OK. The norms of democracy don’t matter anymore. You don’t have to obey them. You don’t have to use your social, democratic, mind. It’s better that you don’t. They’re trying to annihilate you.
You can’t obey the rules of democracy with people like that. As long as it works, whatever it is, it’s OK — because this is an existential fight. You want to survive, don’t you? Then you have to strike first, hard, and anything goes now.
You can’t not have noticed that people just seem totally unhinged now. Their minds don’t seem to work anymore. That’s because they actually don’t. The atavistic impulse of primal rage is all that’s left when primal fears are triggered. This is how the far right wins.
The far right’s strategy is incredibly successful. So successful, in fact, that it doesn’t even need to be in power to have power. That is because this strategy works at the deepest level of all.
That is how the far right is winning. The entire planet. This approach is exactly the same. From America, to Europe, to Britain, to India, to Russia. That’s what’s truly chilling about it. It differs not one bit. The basics are coding primal fear into everything, triggering primal rage, so that people abandon democratic norms in terror and fear, provoked into believing their very survival is at stake, that their kids will be raped, abused, killed, that they will be hurt. So they hurt back, first.
We need to undo this vicious cycle. This is the single most important challenge of this decade. Yes, really. Because if we can’t stop it, we have no hope of stopping any larger one, from climate change to economic collapse.
We are becoming zombie democracies. The average person is losing their mind. They are not capable of handling the barrage of primal fear coming from the far right, and the far right knows it. They regress beyond infantile states, to truly primal states, and lash out in ways that even kids don’t. Now you know why this moment feels like this.
We need to stop this vicious cycle, fast. The far right has stumbled on an incredibly dangerous formula. A black magic spell which literally rips people’s minds apart. Turns them against democracy. And leaves them little more than quivering lizard-mind blobs of hate, regressed right back to a primal scream of rage, against an annihilatory world, striking out at in violence, anything goes, destroy, hate, kill — all that now coded into everything from masks to books to little children.
I really hope you grasp what I’m saying. I have never been so worried for our societies as right now. Because the entire planet should not be turning far right. Ever. That it is, now, is a testament to how powerful this black magic of tearing people’s minds apart really is. It is the most devious thing history’s seen in a very, very long time.