The Grayzone‘s Aaron Maté has done an interview with his father titled “America in denial: Gabor Maté on the psychology of Russiagate”, and it is the single best and most insightful political video I’ve ever seen. In 27 minutes it essentially describes the fundamental problems of our times, not just with Russiagate but with world politics as a whole, from the overarching behaviors of globe-dominating forces all the way down to the ways our own inner reluctance to face reality objectively helps to prop up those forces. So it deserves its own article.
Back when I learned that Gabor was Aaron’s father my first thought was, “That makes so much sense.” Aaron had exploded onto the Russiagate debate scene seemingly out of nowhere and quickly became the most thorough and lucid voice on the subject, holding to strict principles of valuing facts and evidence over the aggressive pressure to conform from his media peers and the authoritative assertions of government agencies. Gabor I’d known of for years because of how widely respected he is in other circles I’ve moved in for his penetrating insights into the human psyche. It makes perfect sense that someone with the moral fortitude to swim against the groupthink current and speak the truth no matter what would have someone like that as part of his personal formation.
I highly recommend watching the full interview, but since I know many of my readers aren’t big on watching videos I’ll sum up what I consider the highlights here with excerpts from the Grayzone transcript, because I really do think it’s that good and that important.
The elder Maté talked about the public support for the Russiagate narrative, and the inevitable disappointment which followed after Robert Mueller failed to turn up any evidence of collusion between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump campaign, as the result of emotional investment.
“Now, disappointment means that you’re expecting something and you wanted something to happen, and it didn’t happen,” Maté said. “So that means that some people wanted Mueller to find evidence of collusion, which means that emotionally they were invested in it. It wasn’t just that they wanted to know the truth. They actually wanted the truth to look a certain way. And wherever we want the truth to look a certain way, there’s some reason that has to do with their own emotional needs and not just with the concern for reality.”
Gabor explained that the reason for this emotional investment ensued from the trauma of seeing Trump elected. They had the choice between consciously feeling through the pain and fear of that trauma and then doing some serious examinations of the factors that led to Trump’s election, or blaming the whole thing on a foreign boogeyman and avoiding that self-confrontation altogether.
“You can look at that,” Maté explained. “Or you can say there must be a devil somewhere behind all this, and that devil is a foreign power, and his name is Putin, and his country is Russia. Now you’ve got a simple explanation that doesn’t invite you or necessitate that you explore your own pain and your own fear and your own trauma.”
“So I really believe that really this Russiagate narrative was, on the part of a lot of people, a sign of genuine upset at something genuinely upsetting,” Maté continued. “But rather than dealing with the upset, it was an easier way to in a sense draw off the energy of it in to some kind of a believable and comforting narrative. It’s much more comforting to believe that some enemy is doing this to us than to look at what does it say about us as a society.”
Maté went on to discuss Trump himself as not just traumatizing, but traumatized. Someone acting out his own inner issues in the world in a deeply unconscious way:
Donald Trump is the clearest example of a traumatized politician one could ever see. He’s in denial of reality all the time. He is self aggrandizing. His fundamental self concept is that of a nobody. So he has to make himself huge and big all the time and keep proving to the world how powerful and smart, what kind of degrees he’s got and how smart he is. It’s a compensation for terrible self image. He can’t pay attention to anything, which means that his brain is too scattered because it was too painful for him to pay attention.
What does this all come down to? The childhood that we know that he had in the home of a dictatorial child disparaging father… who demeaned his children mercilessly. One of Trump’s brothers drank himself to death. And Trump compensates for all that by trying to make himself as big and powerful and successful as possible. And, of course, he makes up for his anger towards his mother for not protecting him by attacking women and exploiting women and boasting about it publicly. I mean, it’s a clear trauma example. I’m not saying this to invite sympathy for Trump’s politics. I’m just describing that that’s who the man is.
Maté tied his observations about the refusal of Russiagaters to confront their inner trauma and Trump’s refusal to confront his to the refusal of Americans as a whole to confront the horrors that their own country has inflicted upon the world which dwarf even the most severe things the Russian government has been accused of doing to America.
“No serious student of history can possibly deny how the United States has interfered in the internal politics of just about every nation on earth,” Maté said, adding that this interference often consists of mass murder. “For example, in Chile, there’s an elected government that America cheerfully overthrows, even boasts about it. Not to mention the current interference in Venezuela, the internal politics. Not to mention, how as you’ve pointed out, many others have pointed out, and [Time] boasts about it on its cover, about how United States helped Boris Yeltsin get elected... Even if the worst thing that’s alleged about the Russians is true, it’s not even on miniscule proportion of what America has publicly acknowledged it has done all around the world.”
Maté talked about how “it’s always easier to see ourselves as the victims than as the perpetrators,” adding that “whether it’s Great Britain, or whether it’s France with their vast colonial empires, they’re always the victims of everybody else. The United States is always the victim of everybody else. All these enemies that are threatening us. It’s the most powerful nation on earth, a nation that could single handedly destroy the earth a billion times over with the weapons that are at its disposal, and it’s always the victim.”
“So this victimhood, there is something comforting about it because, again, it allows us not to look at ourselves,” Maté said. “And I think there was this huge element of victimhood in this Russiagate process.”
Maté talked about how Mueller, despite his horrible track record of supporting the WMD lie in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, has been made into a hero, because Hollywood has trained the public psyche to seek out “good guys” and “bad guys” in every intense situation. This is what led Putin to be depicted as an omnipotent supervillain capable of infiltrating the highest levels of the US government, and Mueller as a knight in shining armor who was going to rescue us all.
“Rather than saying, okay, there’s a big problem here. We’ve elected a highly traumatized grandiose, intellectually unstable, emotionally unstable, misogynist, self aggrandizer to power. Something in our society made that happen. And let’s look at what that was. And let’s clear up those issues if we can. And let’s look at the people on the liberal side who, instead of challenging all those issues, put all their energies into this foreign conspiracy explanation. Because to have challenged those issues would have meant looking at their own policies, which tended in the same direction.
“Rather than looking at how under Clinton, they’ve jailed hundreds of thousands of people who should never have been in jail. Looking at how under the Bushes and under Obama, there was this massive transfer of wealth upwards. Instead of asking why Barack Obama gets $400,000 for an hour speech to Wall Street, which means that maybe our faith in how our system operates needs to be shaken a bit so we can actually look at what’s really going on, let’s just put our attention on some foreign devil again.”
Maté talked about how Obama, despite being a warmonger like the other US presidents, represented a nice ideal in people’s minds, so the contrast between that ideal and Trump’s election made it especially traumatic. This made people unwilling to look at the actual root causes of Hillary Clinton’s loss, which taken together are far more threatening to democracy than anything Russia is accused of doing, even if those accusations are all 100 percent true.
In conclusion the younger Maté asked his father for his advice on what people can do going forward to avoid the mistakes that led to Trump’s election, and to the years of Russia hysteria that followed, or at least to deal with similar challenges in a more mature way.
“Well, first of all, I advise people to do something that I find hard to do myself, but I think it’s essential,” replied the elder Maté. “Which is that when there’s hard emotions there, just own them. Just own that you’re hurt. Own that you’re confused. Just own it. Say I’m hurt, I’m confused, I’m terrified. And rather than try and find an explanation right away, just own the feeling. And then when you’re ready, then actually ask, what happened here? What actually happened here? What are the facts? What behaviors or beliefs on my part maybe contributed to the situation? So be curious. Be really curious.”
With regard to the press, Gabor advised to be objective and skeptical of the government agencies which have so consistently deceived America into wars:
“At least be objective. Don’t be so quick to jump on board. Don’t be so quick to assume that because almost the whole media is broadcasting, trumpeting a certain line, that that line represents reality. Learn from history. Learn from this one. Learn from this Russiagate thing that they were all saying for years that this is a given fact. All of a sudden it turns out not to be a given fact. Well, next time, don’t be so quick to believe them.”
Gabor pointed out that for all people’s efforts at avoiding the internal confrontations which necessarily come along with disillusionment, it is much better to be disillusioned than illusioned.
“Would you rather believe in something that’s false, which means to have an illusion? Or would you rather be disillusioned?” Maté asked. “In other words, to see the truth. And I’m saying that we should be glad to be disillusioned. So this Russiagate and this ignoble end to the Russiagate narrative, it’s a disillusionment for a lot of people, but that’s a good thing. If they say, okay, I had this illusion, this illusion I no longer have, which means I’ve been disillusioned, now I can actually look at the truth. So it’s good to be disillusioned.”
“So this could be a positive beginning for a lot of people if they take the right attitude,” Maté concluded.
Man, I really hope so.
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