In a 1900 article in Rivista, Alfredo Pareto commented on the radical movements at the turn of the century in France and Italy. He identified two factors, the circulation of elites and the irrationalism in politics. Change is associated with people always entering and leaving elites thereby tending to restore equilibrium. However, decisions in politics are emotional and non-rational. In such a system the function of reason is to justify past behavior or to show the way to future goals, which are determined not by reason, but by emotional wants. During the 1980s, school systems lowered educational standards to protect children from failure. The world would be saved from crime, drug abuse and under-achieving through bolstering self-esteem. These changes were problematic – lowering education standards to support positive self-esteem – created a milieu for extreme individualism. When there is too much self-esteem there are problems of self-tolerance, entitlement and narcissism. This culture of extreme individualism ushered in the narcissism influencing decision-making and accountability today.
Narcissists dissociate (erase memories) a lot (are amnesiac) because their contact with the world and with others is via a fictitious construct: The false self. Narcissists never experience reality directly but through a distorting lens darkly. They get rid of any information that challenges their grandiose self-perception and the narrative they had constructed to explicate, excuse and legitimize their antisocial, self-centred and exploitative behaviors, choices and idiosyncrasies. In an attempt to compensate for the yawning gaps in memory, narcissists confabulate: They invent plausible “plug ins” and scenarios of how things might, could, or should have plausibly occurred. To outsiders, these fictional stopgaps appear as lies. But the narcissist fervently believes in their reality: He may not actually remember what had happened – but surely it could not have happened any other way! The narcissist does not remember their previous tales because they are not invested with the emotions and cognitions that are integral parts of real memories.
Feedback from other people regulates the narcissist’s sense of identity, self-worth, boundaries, even his reality test (his correct awareness of the world around him). The narcissist needs this constant input to maintain a sense of continuity. Thus, the narcissist’s nearest and dearest – his sources of secondary narcissistic supply – serve as “external memories” and as “flux regulators” whose function it is to maintain a regular, stable flow of affirming and cohering data. Having invented himself, the narcissist sees no problem in re-inventing that which he designed in the first place. The narcissist is his own creator. Hence his grandiosity. Moreover, the narcissist is a man for all seasons, forever adaptable, constantly imitating and emulating, a human sponge, a perfect mirror, a non-entity that is, at the same time, all entities combined. To the narcissist, every day is a new beginning, a hunt, a new cycle of idealization or devaluation, a newly invented self.
Many people with narcissism struggle with pervasive feelings of insecurity underneath the outward superiority and entitlement they present to the world. But this experience may be most commonly associated with covert, or vulnerable narcissism. Many people with this subtype of narcissism do show outward signs of sensitivity to criticism and insecurity. This insecurity can manifest as difficulty accepting criticism, or anything seen as criticism, since critiques can trigger feelings of vulnerability. People with narcissism generally need a lot of admiration and approval, since receiving this admiration may help combat the underlying insecurity. They might use emotional abuse tactics, including gaslighting, to try and control partners or friends so they’ll remain in the relationship and continue offering admiration and regard. Insecurity can be hard to face, but it’s possible to work through this, along with any other emotional or mental health challenges like anxiety, without emotional abuse or other problematic behaviors.
The narcissist is typically at a state of constant antagonistic warfare with others in order to assert dominance. Collective narcissists are a group of people who desperately need their group to be admired, and validated by others. Hart and Stekler say such findings point to a psychological process that begins with narcissistic personality. They propose that the insecurity that characterizes narcissism leads people toward worldviews that accentuate power and control, like right-wing authoritarianism. At the same time, the grandiose aspect of narcissism leads people to adopt ego-enhancing views that degrade outgroups, like social dominance orientation. These ideologies then contribute to socially and economically conservative views that encourage negativity toward immigrants. Consequently, anti-immigrant attitudes then lead Trump to be seen as a desirable leader.
No one equivocates or dis-informs with greater conviction than the narcissist-politician, whose blatant disregard for facts can at times be mind-boggling. Trump’s opponents learned explaining and defending against the narcissist leaves you open to more abuse. When you address the content of what is being said and explain and defend your position, you endorse Trump’s right to judge, approve, or abuse you. Your reaction sends this message: “You have power over my self-esteem. You have the right to approve or disapprove of me. You’re entitled to be my judge.” People must appreciate how important emotions are in making decisions that impact on making a better world. People tend to overestimate their emotional intelligence – the ability to read, understand and respond to emotions in ourselves and others. Voters need to focus on the roll backs of previous progressive legislation, and not be overwhelmed by the manipulative rhetoric of the various front men for the economic elite.
As Price and Edwards explain, from 1947 through 1974, real incomes grew close to the rate of per capita economic growth across all income levels. That means that for three decades, those at the bottom and middle of the distribution saw their incomes grow at about the same rate as those at the top. This was the era in which America built the world’s largest and most prosperous middle class, an era in which inequality between income groups steadily shrank (even as shocking inequalities between the sexes and races largely remained). But around 1975, this extraordinary era of broadly shared prosperity came to an end. Since then, the wealthiest Americans, particularly those in the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent, have managed to capture an ever-larger share of our nation’s economic growth – in fact, almost all of it – their real incomes skyrocketing as the vast majority of Americans saw little if any gains.
Although we use social comparison in part to develop our self-concept – that is, to form accurate conclusions about our attitudes, abilities, and opinions – social comparison has perhaps an even bigger impact on our self-esteem. When we are able to compare ourselves favorably with others, we feel good about ourselves, but when the outcome of comparison suggests that others are better or better off than we are, then our self-esteem is likely to suffer. Upward comparison may lower our self-esteem by reminding us that we are not as well off as others. Self-esteem should be viewed as a continuum, and can be high, medium or low, and is often quantified as a number in empirical research. When considering self-esteem, it is important to note that both high and low levels can be emotionally and socially harmful for the individual. Indeed, it is thought an optimum level of self-esteem lies in the middle of the continuum. Individuals operating within this range are thought to be more socially dominant within relationships.
Resentment as a cultural response to economic struggle has political consequences. More than half of US workers are unhappy with their jobs. The frustration you experience by not living the life you imagined is created by the resentment that the outcome of an event is less than you imagined it would be. Donald Trump, himself is a cauldron of resentment, has deeply internalized a life-time of deep resentments, and thus is able to tap into, articulate, and mobilize the resentments of his followers, in a way that Democrats and other professional politicians are able. Trump appeals to resentment that ultimately rests on economic failure: working-class whites have been left behind by soaring inequality (but they mistakenly blame emigrants taking their jobs). Donald Trump – figured out how to harness their disillusionment and growing anger – is superior to the others in exploiting the narcissism of small differences to recruit the Republican base.
America has the circulation of elites and the irrationalism in politics. In the 2020 election voters in the US were reacting to the stagnation of the American economic system. Price and Edwards calculate that the cumulative tab for our four-decade-long experiment in radical inequality had grown to over $47 trillion from 1975 through 2018. Basically, the top 1% took this from the bottom 90% and this, in turn, has made the US less secure. The activities of the special interests and financial elites came home to roost. The reason Trump was attractive is staring us in the face: a stampede of rising inequality that has been trampling the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of Americans, year after year after year. To reverse this, it is necessary to introduce a minimum wage, expand the earned income tax credit to low- and moderate-income workers and families, and invest in education.
Collective narcissism – may be defined by religion, social class, race, political stance, language, nationality, employment status, education level, cultural values, or any other ingroup – supports irrationalism in politics. Collective narcissism is associated with hypersensitivity to provocation and the belief that only hostile revenge is a desirable and rewarding response. It arises when the traditional group-based hierarchies are challenged and empowers extremists as well as populist politicians. Instead of alleviating the sense of threat to one’s self-importance, it refuels it. Former President Trump stays popular by fueling narcissism – by creating or promoting perceived ingroup disadvantages with his anti-immigrant, anti-elitist, and strongly nationalistic rhetoric. With the moral degradation of the present political governing elites; the lack of virtuous men in power positions, now politics is not a profession, but a profitable part-time job for some seeking to promote and attain certain private advantage. The task at hand is to reverse the decline of democracy in America.