Paradoxes of Power

Russia celebrated its Constitution Day today. As part of the festivities, one of the authors of the current constitution was arrested in Moscow for exercising one of the rights guaranteed in the constitution he authored, i.e. the right to peacefully protest.

Update for the Loser

Is the idiot who was telling me that tenured professors can’t be fired because his brain-dead bozo buddy told him so still around? Hello, loser, this is for you:

At least a dozen faculty at the College of Saint Rose were informed Friday that their positions are being cut.

The faculty who are being let go include several longtime and tenured members.

Family Roles

Whenever I mention that I watch Dr. Phil, people begin to snob over me in a way that makes me suspect they only interrupted their rereading of Baudrillard to notice my blog for two minutes.

Of course, there are many silly Dr. Phil segments but there are also very important ones where Dr. Phil educates the woefully ignorant audience about some basics of human psychology.

To give an example, the favorite argument of the proponents of “there is no connection between the process of parenting and its results” philosophy is that children who grow up in the same family are always very different. Often, these idiots claim triumphantly, one sibling is good and another is bad, so what is this if not proof that some people are born bad and nobody is responsible for their badness?

In yesterday’s segment, Dr. Phil explained to the stunned audience that roles are assigned inside families and children have no choice but follow the script. Many families have a black sheep because it’s easier to revel in one’s goodness against the background of losership or evilness the black sheep provides.

We’ve all known families where one sister is pretty and the other one is bookish or one brother is athletic and another one nerdy. In reality, neither we nor these siblings know what they really are like. They are playing roles handed to them (mostly, but not always, without consciously meaning to do so) because it’s easier to control them this way. Pretty and Smart will always feel too different and too resentful of each other to form a profound relationship. And people who lack an ally are easy to control.

This is also a strategy that induces a permanent sense of guilt in a person who feels that s/he can never be all s/he needs to be. Athletic will feel guilty for not being as smart as Nerd, and Nerd will feel clumsy and unpopular next to Athletic. People who are perennially guilty and who feel not good enough are, again, very easy to control.

You don’t need to have siblings to be part of this dynamic. A super neat mother might have a messy daughter who’ll never even suspect that her messiness is nothing but a way to please Mommy by letting her cleanliness shine brighter against the background of the hapless daughter. A professionally successful father might have a deadbeat son who has no idea that his incapacity to hold down a job is a favor he keeps doing for Daddy. And so on. It’s important not to be confused by the protestations of Mommy and Daddy that they want the exact opposite of what they are getting. What we really want can best be seen in what we actually have (constantly and not situationally, of course) and not in our protestations.