A New Story

Putin is reportedly terrified of suffering Gaddafi’s kind of death. People keep asking, “he’s so rich, why isn’t it enough? Why couldn’t he enjoy his fabulous wealth, his 14 palaces, his yachts, his planefuls of prostitutes, his notorious orgies? Why get into this whole mess?”

Well, this is why. This tired old weasel doesn’t want to be raped and torn to pieces by his own people. And they’ll do it if he doesn’t give them what they want. Violence, death and horror is what they want. This is what they always want.

Look at Russia’s history. What was happening in Russia on this day a hundred years ago? Ninety years ago? Eighty? And so on. Civil wars, genocide, Stalinism, purges, more genocide, and endless wars. Look at what Russia has been doing throughout the entire twentieth century. The longest, most ferocious totalitarian regime in history. Every attempt at democracy, at building a normal life drowns in rivers of blood, their own or somebody else’s.

This is the narcissistic injury that I keep talking about. This is a wounded civilization that has lost its way and embraced death. It’s happened to other cultures, and I can give examples if people want. But with Russia we are noticing it more because nuclear weapons make it impossible not to pay attention. This is a gigantic planetary problem, and there won’t be a good ending to this story until we all do something about it.

And it’s been done on the past. Germany regaled the world with Nazism as a result of its narcissistic injury (although a much smaller one). And look at them today. Yes, they have problems but they are a normal, civilized country. Nobody is expecting them to freak out and burn up the world all of a sudden. It took work and a bunch of money but it’s all doable.

I want absolutely nothing bad to happen to the Russian people. But Russia cannot exist in its current form. It needs to be broken up into several republics that have to be given new narratives and patiently, kindly rebuilt economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. That’s the only way. There need to be new generations of Russians who will be born outside the narrative of the narcissistic injury. The entirety of the Russian culture has been built to glorify and nourish the woundedness. That all needs to go. We are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Russians need a different story but they are clearly unable to create one for themselves. After the USSR fell apart, they had every chance to do so but it didn’t happen. For the peace of us all, we need to help them.

If that isn’t done, if the situation is allowed to keep festering, imagine the fodder for their narcissistic injury that they’ll glean from their current humiliating defeat. Think Germany after WWI on steroids to the power of one million.

But to provide help to a wounded civilization like this, we need to not suffer from our own self-inflicted wounds. The post-WWII America managed to give this help to Germany because it had the joy and the certainty of its own goodness. In order to help somebody who has embraced death to turn around and walk away from the brink, you have to embrace life. The only healthy approach to life is “I’m good and the world is good.” Everything else is a pathology. On an individual level, it makes for a miserable life. On a collective level, the pathology is amplified and everything gets much worse. We can’t combat Russia’s pathological “I’m good but the world is bad” with our current “I’m bad and the world is my good, long-suffering victim.” Both attitudes are unhealthy.

If only the Left were doing its stupid, ahistorical land acknowledgements, it wouldn’t be as bad. But the Right is doing its own version of the same crap. What is the narrative of “we are to blame for Russia’s war either beginning or not ending” if not a form of a land acknowledgement? It’s easy to mock the idiot Libs. And yes, they do a lot of idiotic things. But so do we. We are hacking at our own sense of self, creating our own narcissistic injury. We need a new story, too. It will be easier because we are in the early stages of walking away from a healthy view of ourselves. But it needs to be done. The world needs us. It needs us strong, healthy, confident, and happy.

The world needs us to start telling a better story.

5 thoughts on “A New Story

  1. Very well put Clarissa.

    I think the main root of our problems is, as you put it, we don’t have a common narrative anymore. The narrative of liberal democracy is increasingly falling apart. We attempted that in the middle east and Afghanistan and failed miserably.
    The narrative of the free market is also falling apart, as we realize how nonfree it really is

    We definitely need a new story to tell ourselves and common ground of understanding. But right now we are heading in the exact opposite direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whenever I’m invited to give a talk about my experiences as an immigrant, I always say that this is a great country, very welcoming, with an incredible amount of curiosity, kindness and respect towards immigrants. The audiences invariably act confused. The only people who nod are other immigrants.

      We all must walk away from the narrative about our exceptional horribleness and embrace a healthier self-image. When we have a friend who constantly tells us how horrible he is, we tell him that it’s not healthy. But collectively we revel in stories of our badness.


      1. To what extend do you think people just grow bored of the same story? Do you think maybe there is an innate human need for suffering and change? Maybe a perfect peaceful world would just be mindbogglingly boring.

        I know I’m just throwing stuff out there, but I can’t explain how else we just manage to always find ourselves in the same situations and making the same mistakes.


    2. \ The narrative of liberal democracy is increasingly falling apart. We attempted that in the middle east and Afghanistan and failed miserably.

      Lets not compare the primitive parts of the middle east and Africa to FSU countries, including Russia.

      It’s stupidly criminal to make a half-attempt to bring ‘democracy’ to the backward tribal society of Afghanistan, a society that in some ways hasn’t reached the level of European Middle Ages, and then, after this attempt obviously fails, decide to let go of democracy in the middle of Europe, in Russia where many people are ready for a change.

      Unlike Afghanistan, Russia has ties to Europe, cultural, mental (in a good way), etc.

      Young people want a better life. Many Russians of all ages are sceptical regarding Putin’s adventures in Ukraine, but if they say a word, they’ll be fined or imprisoned.

      Most people in every society, including democratic ones, don’t like to put themselves against what looks like a majority opinion, preferring to go with the flow.

      From reading Russian blogs, I see signs of waking up. One popular blogger, who loved describing the evils of tolerating men in women’s bathrooms and female sports among other signs of Western decadence, wrote a post “gay couples among American politicians are all right, they won’t bomb anyone.” In his another post, he talks of Ukraine being an independent country, which left Russia for ever.

      Even worst imperialists are criticizing Putin for deciding to attack Ukraine in the first place. The understanding that Ukraine and Belarus are not parts of Russia any longer will reach them soon, and has already reached some.

      Not all countries are the same.
      Arabs in Afghanistan are not Russians!
      I live in the Middle East and can observe what Arabs in not Afghanistan are like.
      Russians are 100% more civilized and normal and Western.


      1. I’d like to believe it’s possible to civilize Russia through the young people. But take a look at my new post. These are very educated young women. They all speak very good English. Two have studied in the Czech Republic for a semester. Two more have taken online courses through a Cambridge program. But the level of discourse is that of some old, brainwashed babushka deep in the countryside. They know this is a great opportunity, and it’s important to make a good impression. But even then they can’t dial down the wounded poutiness. Oh, that permanently aggrieved, wounded Russian poutiness. It never goes away.

        I have evaluated students from Bahrain, Nigeria, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, etc. Some with very difficult lives like nothing these Russian women have ever experienced. And I didn’t get anything like this from those candidates. Whatever resentments they might feel, they managed to leave them out of the applications.

        Now imagine the overwhelming majority that is less worldly, speaks no languages, never traveled, and has no education. Are they likely to be less wounded when all they’ve heard their whole lives is that they can’t have what they want because the whole world irrationally hates them?


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