A tale of men. Part IV

by

Antigone

Jason and his supporters spent several years trying to win support within the Kingdom for their position. It was of the gravest necessity, they said, an urgent matter of survival itself, for the Kingdom to retreat and regroup, to abandon the fiction of a different external organisational form, known as the Alliance, to which the majority, led by King Edward, stubbornly clung.

To outsiders, Jason’s case was all the stronger given the well-established and irrefutable fact that the Alliance did by now exist solely in name. This was primarily because all the other groups (except for a handful of non-aligned individuals) that had once been a part of it had exited it, declaring it either redundant or a failure. Moreover, as far as such a thing could be measured — and there were regular tests of its support — the Alliance was seen as neither a useful nor relevant political grouping to most of those in any way sympathetic to its broad political objectives. In fact, most saw it as more of a hindrance than a help in trying to build a more socially just world.

But here lies the crux of the matter, which neither Jason’s nor Edward’s faction could see. The original Kingdom was not so very different to its later incarnations, including the magician’s hat-trick known as the Alliance. Both Jason’s idealised, but in fact now obsolete and outmoded Kingdom, and the Alliance, were political groupings that had failed the test of time over many decades throughout the whole known universe. Both had proven incapable of growing beyond a certain number of citizens who wished to be part of it or who were influenced politically by it. The reasons for these failures were never seriously investigated — and therefore not understood — by either of our two major factions.

Both were engaged in seriously delusional play-acting with their seemingly future-oriented images and tactics in fact frozen in the past. Both remained blind to the larger cultural, economic and political changes in the world that made their concept of political organisation and action both ineffective and counter-productive.

Within a couple of years after he was deposed, Jason and his supporters found themselves facing charges of treachery and other heinous crimes. Similar accusations had been informally levelled against them for several years. Claiming that Jason and his faction were an internal “hostile force” hell-bent on undermining the integrity and security of the Kingdom itself, Edward’s faction resorted to the tried-and-true default tactics and bullying organisational behaviour of old: character assassination, verbal abuse, ostracism, exclusion, demotion and marginalisation, combined with an extremely nasty campaign of intrusive personal surveillance.

This time though, to the amazement of many, it was Jason himself and his supporters, which included some of the longest serving leaders of the court dating back to the reign of Oscar, who now found themselves targeted and injured by the familiar weapons of witch-hunt. How many almost identical intensive, systematic campaigns ranging over more than four decades — most often against one or two dissenters, and occasionally larger numbers — had dispirited, broken, and driven away citizens deemed to have committed damnable offences for advancing opposing but not philosophically incompatible views?

The mental gymnastics that the circumstances of this crisis required of both factions almost beggared belief. But at the same time these contortions were quite comprehensible to attentive observers. For while the political position, outlook and views of Edward’s camp were not in essence so very different to Jason’s — despite what both sides claimed — neither camp could afford to concede this simple fact, or agree to disagree or drop the pretence of irreconcilable differences and lay down their arms or engage in rational negotiation.

People in war or other types of peril habitually resort to similar mechanisms for survival. These include:

  • Holding to beliefs that to the uninitiated seem, and often are, little different in substance.
  • Fighting to the death if necessary to defend those beliefs, now identified with their very own corporeal person, against the perceived heresy of former, actual or potential allies.
  • Carrying out what in harmonious circumstances would be plainly seen as uncivilised and reprehensible acts.
  • Yet as the future often clearly shows, the so-called life-and-death differences often come down, on both sides, to little more than related species of blind faith, to secondary matters of ideological dogma, rather than substantive material differences.

    When witch-hunts or wars are unleashed, shadow forces accompany and shape the accusing, prosecuting side, although this is rarely reflected on, let alone mitigated, by the righteous. A form of psychotic anxiety affects all parties. Driven mad by mistreatment, wounded self-worth, exhaustion and trauma, the targets of witch-hunts can even choose self-immolation or martyrdom, or act out the very behaviour they had unfairly been accused of at the beginning.

    Whether successful or not, the most extraordinary, desperate behaviour can occur. Caligua famously rode his horse — later made a Senator — into the Bay of Baiae as an act of defiance against the prediction of Tiberius’s soothsayer that he had no more chance of becoming emperor than of riding a horse across the sea. My namesake, who clashed with King Creon over the rights and rites of citizenship, particularly female citizenship, was imprisoned in a cave. She hanged herself. Too late the King was convinced to release her — and himself — from his destructive, competitive rage.

    From the beginning, there were highly important branches of human knowledge that the Kingdom prided itself on contemptuously dismissing with the most cursory examination. This meant it was subject to forces it neither understood nor had any hope of ameliorating. One of these branches of knowledge, many of whose leading lights were people historically subjected to the worst sort of group-projected psychotic anxieties — European Jews — developed an entire set of theory and practice around the now virtually unchallengeable commonplace notion that to be a member of a group or subculture is to acquire its projective identifications.

    Unfortunately, this tale ends for now with what the intellectual descendants of these visionaries called “the paranoid schizoid position” in ascendancy in the now totally estranged groups. The Kingdom had suffered a perhaps fatal split with accusations and counter accusations, petty and global, being hurled by both sides. Little appeared to have been learnt by any of the current protagonists about how and why the Kingdom and its citizens got to this dark place. It is odd that the very same people, who purportedly held to a materialist conception of history, did not understand, and still refuse to see, that they were unwittingly a part of social processes, collusively produced.

    “Time for black prophecies is over: the Winter of History is whistling around us.” —
    Sándor Weöres

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