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Scared to Death of My Own Shadow
When all the power in the world isn't enough...
Seems no amount of power is enough when we are fearful. Over the past few generations we have transformed from a nation of God-fearing people into a nation of people who fear everything except God. Nothing assuages us. We live in mortal fear of everything from viruses with a survivability rate of more than 99% to the perceived violence of free speech. We recoil in horror from anyone who betrays the Revised Patent of Toleration issued by the high priests of the new and morally superior religious order: Polytheistic Narcissism.
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Under the commercial synod of Polytheistic Narcissism, every aggrieved subculture is comprised of individual child-gods, each with a distinct set of personalized commandments and pronouns for everyone else to follow. Now ensconced as the official religion of institutional America, Polytheistic Narcissism has all but completely replaced traditional religion in places like New York City, Washington DC, and the entire west coast, places where the corporate media bubbles are all but impenetrable, and where — as a result — we find urban and suburban populations in a perpetual state of manufactured umbrage, moral outrage, and abject fear.
As the new default religion of domestic and global elites alike, Polytheistic Narcissism requires every individual to be institutionally infantilized and prepared for re-orientation as a born-again acolyte. Once baptized, each new convert must be recognized and treated as a perpetually offended child with a long laundry list of social justice wrongs to right and an equally long list of entitlements to appease.
Under the Revised Patent of Toleration, other religions and Enlightenment ideals like due process, individual liberty, free speech, and personal accountability cannot be tolerated, precisely why they have been redefined by the new priesthood as enemies of the state. They — along with other anchor tenants of Western Judeo-Christian tradition like hard work, self-sacrifice, and deferred gratification — find themselves unceremoniously surrendered to the new gods of digital scale at every institutional level, replaced instead by the false security, unaccountability, and atomized demands of collective fealty and manufactured fear. All under the increasingly incoherent and endless religious edicts of Polytheistic Narcissism.
Under the new state religion, democracy and privacy become just two more personal offenses to set right or eliminate entirely. The global elites — the high priests of Polytheistic Narcissism and their over-educated Young Turk crusaders — don’t fear the threats against democracy and free speech as much as they fear the threats to their own power and hegemony from democracy and free speech.
The adult children of Polytheistic Narcissism have converted the entire nation into a middle school playground where it’s clearly too dangerous for children to play, where real crime is decriminalized while the schoolyard bullies — posing as victims — turn their attention and resources to the mob prosecution of thought crime instead. Under Polytheistic Narcissism, accountability stops being a reward for good performance and turns punitive, something to avoid at all costs — kind of what happens when Lord of the Flies meets Animal Farm.
Of course, once we are all infantilized, once the power elites turn us all into children, they no longer need our consent. Informed consent is just a formality — like the ubiquitous user agreements everyone accepts but no one ever reads — when because I said so becomes religious edict.
In the streaming-video canon of Narcissistic Polytheism, elite antipathy towards democracy and freedom of speech — no matter how atheistic — is pure religious doctrine, a wholesale return to theocratic power. It assumes a level of wisdom and knowledge not of mortal hearts and minds, and thus assumes commensurate religious authority to manifest as brute power.
Perhaps the most notable characteristic of Polytheistic Narcissism is this: as long as we remain our own infantilized gods, we will remain forever fearful — with no possibility of redemption. We will always be too racist and too transphobic, and will always commit crimes against our environment with reckless abandon. Those of us who disagree with church doctrine will always be domestic terrorists, likely candidates for conversion therapy or — failing that — eradication. Those of us who agree with the new church doctrine will become candidates for gender-affirming care, a form of kinder, gentler castration.
Polytheistic Narcissism breeds a spiritual detachment, existential loneliness, and institutional nihilism that cannot be assuaged by the accrual of more power and more wealth. It can only beget more fear in the absence of a faith in something larger than ourselves. For the besotted acolytes of Polytheistic Narcissism, there is nothing larger than themselves. For them there is no Calvary, no Messiah, no Prophet. For them, the greatest fear is waking up one day to discover that they said something wrong the day before, and now find themselves suddenly excommunicated as apostates, powerless and friendless in a cold and desolate place where their own inflated sense of moral superiority no longer means anything to anyone — not even to themselves. For them, the greatest fear begins and ends in their own shadows.