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A Deeper Insight Into The Group Psychology Of The Irish Swp
dublin | rights, freedoms and repression | opinion/analysis Tuesday November 01, 2011 13:59 by socialist - none
Why is there a total absence of fairness, equality or accountability in the SWP?
Weak leadership, cowardice, duplicity, the faults of the SWP are symptomatic of a deeper problem.
Pyscho-analayists term the darkest of our human traits the dark triad of Machiavellians, Psychopaths and Narcissists. With a critical mass of narcissists in an organisation it becomes effectively the same as a dangerous narcisstic individual. A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that when a group is without a leader, you can often count on a narcissist to take charge. Researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups. The motto of the narcissistic leader is ‘others exist to admire me’. People are seen as an ‘it’ rather than a human being. If a member is a good minion for postering well and good but if he gets sick and is no longer useful, forget it, point to the revolving door. They have no regrets and are indifferent to the steady stream of disposable comrades they send through the revolving door-a system that should not be imported into the ULA.
Narcissism becomes unhealthy when the narcissists have no consideration for others. The narcissistic leader craves much more to be admired than to be loved. They aggressively pursue their own goals regardless of the bad effect it may have on others. Such narcissists can seem to be empathic (but this is a con) they empathise selectively and try to destroy anyone who fails to believe in their pursuit of glory. A narcissistic leader typically lacks a feeling of self-worth, which gives him a shaky centre and an inability to perceive constructive criticism as anything other than an attack. Without much of a grasp on reality they will find it difficult to adapt to harsh realities. They ignore wise counsel and surround themselves with sycophants leading the group in the wrong direction.
Collective narcissism has been researched by Agnieszka Golec de Zavala and her collaborators. They define collective narcissism as a form of’ ‘in-group identification tied to an emotional investment in an unrealistic belief about the unparalleled greatness of an in-group’. Because a narcissist group is hypersensitive to criticism they only wish to hear selective data to support their doctrine. They will always prefer to preach than to listen. A healthy narcissistic leader would be open to criticism and reality-checks. ‘When we start to look upon Freud, or Muhammad, or whomever, as unquestionable authorities, then we are falling prey to narcissistic idealisation’ Likewise, when we subscribe to the social group as a sphere of perfect cleanliness, void of the "destructive influence" of independent thinkers, then we fall prey to group narcissism. Unhealthy narcissism in group form pumps up grandiosity, creating a false self-image, which permeates all aspects of how the organisation operates. They have no problem with distorting, downplaying or withholding information to maintain the pride of the group. Engaging in outright flattery and adulation to give the whole group a feeling of superiority they will protect themselves at any cost from any pinprick of reality into this bubble of self-congratulation. A healthy group narcissism would manifest as a healthy pride in a meaningful mission. The trouble with unhealthy group narcissism is that it has an inflated pride built on a desperate grasp for glory rather than any real accomplishment.
In general they expect to hear only messages confirming their own sense of their own greatness. Any data that does not fit the grandiose false self-image will be ignored. The rank and file benefit from this skewed filter on reality and become willing to bend the truth to share in the rosy feelings of group self-adulation and ego-inflation. This kind of fakery results in an absence of any real, authentic connection between comrades. The whole group must tacitly collude to maintain their shared illusions. Work becomes a charade and suppression and paranoia become Omni-present. A narcissistic organisation may ostensibly ask for truth and candour but encourages duplicity. Shared illusions flourish in direct proportion to the suppression of the truth. Anyone who threatens the self-flattery even with vital information threatens to bring the group down off its narcissistic high to a deflated feeling of shame, failure or embarrassment.
An organisation suffering from group narcissism like the Irish SWP can have no real political morality because it operates within a moral universe of its own. That the group’s inherent goodness, goals or means should not be questioned becomes an absolute. That everything it does and says is good becomes holy writ. The self-celebration creates a fog divorcing the group from reality. The rules don’t apply to the narcissistic organisation, rules are for other people. Rules are for the squares, accountability is for mainstream parties. They have a strong self-serving bias taking credit for successes but never blame for failure.
The narcissistic idealisation is often mistaken for a natural and healthy form of appreciation of other people. This is a great problem, as pathology is allowed to hide behind a respectable mask. It's the same thing with group narcissism. Its devotees are often mistaken for nice fellows, socially mature, respectful towards other people. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is a chimera. Such people are only providing for their own narcissism by way of reflection in the group. Scratch on the surface, and a nasty intolerance appears. Many psychologists tend to view the social group as an ideal for the individual to attain which is actually an oversimplification. Those psychologists are blind to the fact that there is a pathological version of social life called group narcissism.
Collective narcissism is a predictor of ‘inter-group hostility, unforgiveness, and prejudice’. They interpret ambiguous inter-group situations as threatening the in-group's positive image and react with cowardly passive-aggression. They also express prejudice against other groups with similar goals because they are seen as threatening their in-group's false self-image. Any threats to the group-ego are met with hypersensitivity (it is far too easy to get a rise out of them). Any of their own members who threaten the narcissistic high with a reality check will be typically elbowed out or demoted. They turn politics into a Vanity Fair where the best sycophants will be promoted to inner circles by playing to the vanity of those at the top of hierarchies. The academic elitism leads to a pretentious atmosphere more like university society meetings than you would expect in revolutionary times and a fake bonhomie that would not be tolerated in Greece, Spain or Egypt.