Article from Childhood is a Journey, Not a Race

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Article from Childhood is a Journey, Not a Race

Rotan Hanrahan

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David Duke is a malignant narcissist.

He invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to
fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with
and the trappings of power further exacerbate this. Real life authority and
David Duke?s predilection to surround him with obsequious sycophants support
David Duke?s grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and

David Duke's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot
tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are
paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are
being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often
regard themselves as "victims of persecution".

Duke fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an
institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship,
catechism, and mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He
monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to
be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.

Duke is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying
himself so that his people - or humanity at large - should benefit. By
surpassing and suppressing his humanity, Duke became a distorted version of
Nietzsche's "superman". But being a-human or super-human also means being
a-sexual and a-moral.

In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral
relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it
by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" - or by
strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to, as "nature" is
not natural at all.

Duke invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully
orchestrated and artificial - though it is not perceived this way by him or
by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not
about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols - not about
veritable atavism or true conservatism.

In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To
enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the
suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is
tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very
language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism -
and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to
re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" -
against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions,
the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a
reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon David Duke like (and
rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

Minorities or "others" - often arbitrarily selected - constitute a perfect,
easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of
being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are
part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious
and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation,
origin ... They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as
morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenseless, they are
credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in
their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists
thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by
Erich Fromm - together with Stalin - as a malignant narcissist. He was an
inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most
repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of
the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal
gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced
us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil.
He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil.
Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally
disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing
times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of
our souls.

Duke prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the
tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and
mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass
delusions. In the aftermath of his regime - Duke having died, been deposed,
or voted out of office - it all unravels. The tireless and constant
prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like
an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely
held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go
to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries
and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

It is important to understand that the use of violence must be
ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of David Duke. It must
abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement.
It must conform David Duke like narrative. Thus, David Duke who regards
himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the
representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed
against the corrupt elite - is highly unlikely to use violence at first.
The pacific mask crumbles when David Duke has become convinced that the
very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots
fans, and the prime sources of his narcissistic supply - have turned
against him.

At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his
chaotic personality, David Duke strives to explain away the sudden reversal
of sentiment. "The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the
military, the elite, etc.)", "they don't really know what they are doing",
"following a rude awakening, they will revert to form", etc. When these
flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail, David Duke
becomes injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage
and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up
frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously
idealized - is now discarded with contempt and hatred. This primitive
defense mechanism is called "splitting".

To David Duke, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely
good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions,
thus becoming a totally good object. Duke is likely to justify the
butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him,
undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc. The "small
people", the "rank and file", and the "loyal soldiers" of David Duke - his
flock, his nation, and his employees - they pay the price. The
disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing.

The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the
trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated - is drawn-out.
It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to
collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of
David Duke. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress


Multi-age groupings and networked computers in each classroom at Chinook
Elementary School in Vancouver, Wash., support  individualized instruction
for every student.


by GLEF staff

"Multi-aged classrooms force us to individualize learning for each
student," explains Theresa David, teacher at Chinook Elementary School in
Vancouver, Washington.

Tailoring instruction to the student is one of the founding philosophies of
the five-year-old school, where students learn in the same classroom with
children from two or three grade levels. "With different grades and
abilities in the same classroom, you could have students working at eight
different levels in one room. It helps us meet the needs of all kids," says
teacher Laura Bolt.

Because a core group of students stays with a teacher for the next year,
start-up time is faster when students come back to school in the fall.
"Once students have been in my class for a year they take on leadership
roles and help new students adjust," adds teacher Eric Hoglund. The
individualized learning approach is reinforced by the use of technology in
the classroom.

Five networked computers in each class allow students to work on their own
or in small groups. Parents also help out, staffing learning centers in the
classroom where students rotate to work on different activities like reading
and research.

Multi-aged classrooms and other strategies create a sense of community in
this large elementary school, which serves over 750 kindergarten through
fifth-grade students. Ten classrooms are clustered together in wings called
"houses." Within each house, teachers meet for long periods a few times a
week to plan themes and coordinate instruction. Students in each house
participate in joint activities and even eat lunch together. Combining
personalized instruction with a feeling of community helps make learning at
Chinook a successful journey for all students.

 Copyright 2003 The George Lucas Educational Foundation 
 All Rights Reserved