Essay talk:Political Ponerology
The future of the essay's text
I have considered making this an article draft, but I'm unsure of the RW missionality of the topic and stuff I want to include. Unlike most RW essays, I don't mind others directly contributing to the text, as long as it doesn't hinder covering what I hope to cover.
A main aim is to present some of the most thoughtworthy stuff from the book in short form, with a bit of added critical distance (instead of simply making it a fan page). The contents of the book are very relevant for considering manipulative behavior and destructive personality disorders, though I would not recommend using it as a reference work to generally quote and use as a source of negative labels for people. It's best taken with a large grain of salt, and then it can add to other, more conventional modern material.
The big role the book has played in the online community of the book's editor, where it's oft-quoted and its terminology part of the jargon, shows the limitations of this kind of knowledge. If there forms a strong cult of personality with messianic craziness attached to it, then it seems members submerged in groupthink can gain any amount of theoretical knowledge of this kind while continuing to apply double-standards and other biased reasoning. Maybe at some level it was used as a manual the wrong way around... --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 04:28, 17 May 2021 (UTC)
- Changes of plan... I mostly covered the oft-quoted (in a certain online community) classifications and some main concepts, while leaving off other things for the time. I've been torn on this book in various ways. Very recently, having read a very compelling criticism of its message, and having a little discussion with a Wikipedia editor who is not exactly a fan of the book, I've re-evaluated where the boundaries between good, bad, and ugly in it seem to be. I'm updating the text accordingly. If I bother exploring what I still find to be better stuff later, it will be together with the sharper criticism now worked in. --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 09:15, 14 May 2022 (UTC)
Wacky uses and abuses of the book
The Cassiopaea community which has formed around Laura Knight-Jadczyk (the book's editor) are not alone in abusing the book's message to promote a conspiracy-spirituality "us vs. the world" worldview. Recently, I came across this very short article, which I leave here for future reference:
The inversion of the basic message in that little article (pathocracy as the global satanic COVID-19 cult) also reminded me of the pattern in LKJ's SOTT/Cassiopaea message, which is this: instead of being about the majority threatened by a small pathological would-be-elite, it flips things around and makes a minority of cranks the only "normal and healthy" people in a sick world defined by the pathological majority. This is more easy to see after some time browsing the Cassiopaea forum, where this 180-degree twist to how Lobaczewski's message ends up applied to the modern world in practice is at the core of the groupthink consensus.
To people ready to follow along when a fringe group makes such a twist, the result is attractive: Political Ponerology transforms into something that seems to lend a scientific credibility, in the form of an old forbidden knowledge of the persecuted, to the crank "forbidden knowledge" of the make-believe persecuted people who want to use it to bolster and legitimize their position.
As can be seen on the Wikipedia talk page for political ponerology, the association of the book with LKJ leaves a bad taste in the mouth of a large portion of people who look into it. RW's LKJ article was linked to last year. Still, PP is notable enough that it stays on Wikipedia despite some people wanting it gone. I think the 2021 overhaul of the LKJ article, plus this essay (to turn into mainspace article?), is beginning to make clear that there's a sharp difference between LKJ's basic message and the basic message of the book. Though it won't help Wikipedia find the kind of additional sources they want to add references to. --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 02:51, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
The "histeroidal cycle" seems to be a tad too reductionist
Not a very good model of history. History is a complex phenomenon, and what causes change and upheaval in human societies has much to do with material conditions. While I have a problem with the medicalization of evil (it's ableist for one, and kind of wrong for two? the mentally ill are much more likely to be victims than victimizers), I would say that emotional reactions to societal conditions are a sort of feedback loop. General emotional and mental health is better secured when the needs (and wants) of the people are adequately met, they decline when they are not. (Why must we assume that evil is "sick")? Vee (talk) 15:37, 5 November 2022 (UTC)
- Yeah, it's a pretty simplistic view, and trying to explain too much of history with a few simple building blocks like that one is a dated approach, which I think was mainstream about a century ago (Lobaczewski mentioned, in the video interview, learning the basic idea of historical good-and-bad-times cycles in his studies), but the fields of history and psychology have largely moved on from that. A variation of the same basic idea, but all about moral qualities and good vs. bad outcomes, is popular with some mainstream conservative crowds nowadays, but I don't know of any scientific fleshing out of or reworking of that historical cycle idea.
- On medicalization in general, I think Lobaczewski's understanding of psychological variation is too bland and poor, despite his words to the contrary in some places. (He especially seems to lack understanding for people who are more sensitive than the norm, and somewhat dysfunctional as a result, in non-pathologizing terms.) But regarding victims vs. victimizers, there's distinctions to be made between psychological issues that primarily bring the individual problems, vs. ones that primarily bring others problems. Both tend to result in the label "mentally ill". A much better book to read about that may be George K. Simon's Character Disturbance, on manipulative people and the differences between "neurotic" people – those who care "too much" and end up hurt more than others – and "character disturbed" people – those who care "too little" and end up hurt less than others. Or in other words, it's misleading to lump everything into one category of "mental illness", because the differences in causes and effects (and possibly helpful treatments) are so great.
- Regarding evil things, I don't think there's one general answer to "why the evil?" I don't think it can be, nor should be, fully medicalized, and that only some portion (which I'm not sure of) of "evil people" have medicalizable "conditions". But I think there's much that could be learned about brain wiring and more which explains patterns in extremes. Maybe a potentially vaguely utopian sci-fi society, which uses some future knowledge and know-how to help people grow up with what can be called basically healthy brain wiring, would largely be one that inserts help and prevents harm in more cases, so that personal development feedback loops don't result in trainwrecks. On the societal level, people have long wanted to try to help make masses see through manipulation and avoid becoming manipulated, but how to actually do that? If that actually succeeded (and Lobaczewski doesn't have the recipe for it), I think the scale and frequency of "evil things" would likely drop greatly as a result.
- Political Ponerology seems more insightful about some shorter-term psychological and societal dynamics, not covered here yet. In particular, there's a part about "political spellbinders", people said to have a talent for manipulation of others and crowds, and also a need from early on to use it. The idea goes, they discover that the world is hostile to them when they're basically honest, and as a result they practice psychologically controlling groups of people until they get what they want. As they keep working in "vile" and underhanded ways, they become polarizing figures. Success at redefining reality for others may come to mean leading and radicalizing a political movement. To the spellbinder, the threat of personal failure may seem total and crushing, anything done to try to avoid it. A society polarized around a spellbinder becomes hysterical. It's easy to think of Donald Trump here, along with older historical figures. I think it's an interesting take on authoritarian leaders. --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 22:45, 5 November 2022 (UTC)
Original publisher + Other books
@ApooftGnegiol One thing I've found that I feel is important is the publisher of the original Polish translation. The publisher in question is Dom Wydoniczy "Ostoja", henceforth known as Ostoja. The listing for the Polish translation can be found here. Ostoja is a far-right Polish nationalist publishing house, whose other published works include a Polish translation of Henry Ford's The International Jew. In addition, a Brazilian Portuguese translation was published by far-right Brazilian publisher Vide Editorial, with a foreword by Olavo de Carvalho. The Serbian/Shtokavian translation was also published by the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law for some reason. 3/4 isn't exactly a good ratio when it comes to how many cranks have published a book. Although Laura Knight-Jadczyk does indeed appear to have distorted the book's ideas over the years to suit her goals, Lobaczewski and his ideas are intimately connected with the far-right, even if it has gained some currency among anti-Trumpists in recent years. Lobaczewski also wrote another book named Logokracja. Koncepcja ustroju państwa, also known as Logocracy and published by Ostoja. The book hasn't been published elsewhere as of now, but it appears that one of Knight-Jadczyk's associates, Harrison Koehli, is working on an English translation. He also wrote a third book named Chirurgia słowa: Wybrane zagadnienia psychoterapii, or Word Surgery: Selected Issues in Psychotherapy. This book is harder to find. If I find any other information that may be useful, I'll post it in the replies to this post. ~Red of Arctic Circle System (talk) 07:03, 30 April 2023 (UTC)
- Thanks for gathering that. I'll get to (re)working it into it, but maybe not immediately. I've also been procrastinating making other changes for some time, including noting what is and isn't original to the book when it's not clear, and mentioning the author's breakdown in his last days (after he visited LKJ et al and they convinced him of their 9/11 theories and in turn basically that he lived in a globalized dystopia like he described). While this is just my own speculation, the last part seems significant because it may tie into how and why he created the worldview in his book. I've been thinking that maybe, he clung so hard to his outdated science and other questionable things because it all became part of an inner order he built to cope with terrible times he lived through (he mentioned getting tortured the last time he was arrested in the video interview). I'm not sure how much of the backstory for the book, about a research group, he may have made up, but if he did make things up, that also fits into what I speculate about. --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 21:06, 2 May 2023 (UTC)
- Huh, interesting. I never knew about his breakdown in his last days. It's difficult to tell which parts of his history are true and which parts he made up since there isn't much independent confirmation of any of this. Some of it is most likely bs, while other parts could go either way. It's quite odd. I should also mention that he supposedly helped Marian Wasilewski (another Polish-American psychologist interested in the psychology of authoritarianism, most well known for writing The Psychological Roots of Communism) while remaining anonymous at the time. Marian Wasilewski's website went down fairly recently, but an archive of the interview can be found here. I'm not sure how much insight it has into Lobaczewski himself, but it could be useful. In addition, Harrison Koehli recently wrote a substack post in which he responds to Ramon Glazov's review of Political Ponerology. A lot of it is bullshit from what I remember from my last time reading it, but you may still be interested in reading it for yourself. Harrison Koehli is the vice president of the Jadczyk's "charity", which they seem to use as a front for the cult's operations, as seen here. No idea how QFG got a gold star from Guidestar. The Fellowship of the Cosmic Mind has also been known to attempt to use deceptive means to promote the book, its ideas, and their organization as seen here. Make of that what you will. ~Cherri of Arctic Circle System (talk) 21:36, 9 May 2023 (UTC)