Personality Type, Politics, And The Need For Mythology

by | Sep 28, 2018

I’m listening to the latest Thad Russell.

He’s interviewing a very smart, interesting intellectual academic named Daniel Bessner about defense intellectuals in the US.  They get into an argument about the Nazis and the scope of their ambitions and ability to win.

Thad mentions that Hitler’s ambitions, as deeply nationalistic, were simply not colonial or expansionist beyond ambitions in Eastern Europe.  He also puts forth the idea that Hitler’s regime was unstable, economically underfunded, and so forth.  These ideas are fairly uncontroversial among historians today.

His interviewee, Bessner (a socialist, who started with, but couldn’t stomach Libertarianism), insists that the age-old bogeyman of Hitler’s evil world empire was a legitimate concern.

I think Bessner, based on his arguments, tone, and so forth, reveal that his political preference relates to his personality type.  Forgive me if that sounds slanderous.  I don’t mean to slander this respectable, intelligent person.  I’m merely advancing my impression, filtered through my point of view.

There’s this thing of affectation, where Feeling type personalities become convinced – sensing a truth of the universe – that inequality is by far the worst and most harmful outcome for society.  They have other beliefs, too.  I’ve noticed that these types (socialists), love myths.

The inevitability of proletariat revolution.  The archetype of the poor laborer, whom the intellectual understands better than the person himself.  Also, the absolute truth that Hitler’s empire was this unique and epochal evil, and there’s no way to question it.

Let me be clear: I think Hitler’s empire was uniquely evil.  I also think Hitler’s empire was doomed from the beginning, and that all the evidence (other than propaganda videos of staged marches) point to this.  I think FDR knew this, and if he didn’t it was in proportion to FDR’s sympathy for Hitler’s economic policies, and FDR’s lust for Hitler’s amount of political power.  I also think that Hitler’s aims are caricatured.  Hitler was an anti-democrat, a totalitarian, and a militarist nationalist.  So were half of the European leaders (including in Latin American society) for all of European history – at least.  In my view, Stalin was “worse” than Hitler – probably.  Also, Napoleon appears to have had wider ambitions towards world empire even than Hitler did.  Unlike Great Man historians, I think Napoleon was a pretty evil dude.

Still, Bessner seems desperate to operate within a framed emotional paradigm.  He desperately wants to believe in some sort of international solidarity between he and those like him, believing in a universal connection and goodness between them.  The emotional nature of this paradigm inclines it to prefer “stories” that support it.  So, Hitler has to be a bogeyman.  Because socialism isn’t simply “some political ideology” that a lot of people don’t like that much.  No!  Socialism is goodness embodied!  And when it’s defeated some kind of ill-wind of darkness has to be behind its demise.  Hitler is an example of that.

In terms of MBTI, I’d paint Bessner as an INFJ.  History is a story of good feelings and bad vibes, and we must judge history and make sure we characterize everything in those terms.  In other words, Bessner’s socialism – and his disproportionate view of Hitler – seem forced.  In his words, I sense him injecting some of his own emotional inner world – and it clashes with his facts.

Here’s the point – if a magic genie offered Hitler a world empire, would he take it?  Probably.  So Bessner might be right to judge Hitler’s ambitions in an unlimited way.  However, despite being a megalomaniac with severe health problems, drug abuse issues, and PTSD, did Hitler believe he had a magic genie?  No, I don’t think he did.

Good and evil live inside of reality, just like the rest of us.  There’s a temptation to think of good and evil as outside of, or above reality.  That is, we think that evil and good can shape reality.  All I’m arguing is that good and evil themselves are also subject to be shaped and constrained by reality, inasmuch as they also can impact reality.

In other words, I’m applying that quintessential libertarian skill of evaluating liberal arts ideas through a market dynamics framework.  Ideas, history, circumstances, good and evil, chase a market equilibrium.

What was the price of Hitler’s evil?  That can’t be answered until we include the cost of America’s empire, and also our support of Soviet evil.  In my view, Hitler comes out of that analysis looking like quite a little punk.

Libertarians, also, have a habit of doing this sometimes. “Muh the state” if you will.  However, I’ve also noticed that Libertarianism also tends to lose these fair-weathered friends to the far-left and far-right.  So perhaps some part of our core is more grounded, in something bigger than our own emotional preferences.

About Zack Sorenson

Zachary Sorenson worked for the United States Air Force for six years as a Navigation Officer. He recently quit because of a principled opposition to war. He considers himself to be a Libertarian, and studied Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He would like to see the resurgence of a non-political commitment to peace for its own sake, across the spectrum of ideologies.

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