The Singular Face Of MegalomaniaHistory has given us enough examples to know what this means
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?"
"I am, and that's no reflection on you!"
(source: Rowan & Martin)
It has been talked about a lot the past couple of years. Canadians, supportive or not, cannot seem to pinpoint what it is about Stephen Harper that makes them distrust him, that seems cold, unapproachable… wrong. And then, mixed up with this confusion, is the question about whether or not his intentions as Prime Minister of Canada are good. This article is an attempt to explore some plausible reasons why Canadians feel this way about their PM, while trying to avoid incurring the SLAPP-suit from Harper's over-zealous litigation team that so many others have been presented with when criticizing our very sensitive 'leader'.
Over the years here at the Metaball, I have made no secret of my dislike for Stephen Harper. Originally it was based on the same basic intuition all Canadians feel when staring at those glassy, watery eyes; eyes that only show a glint of real emotion when they're blazing in delight over the taunting or jeering or destruction of someone else, or accidentally revealing an astoundingly low self-esteem and less surprisingly high sense of paranoia. It was in reaction to the early indications that his right-wing, ultra-conservative agenda is not good for all Canadians yet is slowly but surely going to be forced upon us anyway if he has anything to do with it, which unfortunately at this moment in history, he does. It was due also to the sense of that hidden agenda that almost all Canadians know with every ounce of intuition is there, though they just can't put their finger on it.
Michael Ignatieff, the MP and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party whose riding is Etobicoke-Lakeshore, the same riding where Stephen Harper attended and graduated high school, says there is no secret agenda. He says that Harper has made it perfectly clear what he wants to do, which is to first completely and utterly destroy the Liberal Party and second to move the centre of Canadian politics ten degrees to the right until what made this country great is no longer recognizable. With all due respect to the brilliant mind of Mr. Ignatieff (one that casts a pallor over Harper's own eager but inferior intellect, despite his attempts to propagandize himself as a 'genius'), I think there is a little (though very little) more to it than Harper's obvious and childish hate-on for all things Liberal, though I'm sad to say it's not any less obvious or childish.
Let's start with the really nasty stuff, though, the stuff that conjures up comparisons to Hitler or Stalin; let's talk about a damaged psychology, a malevolent personality disorder, and lessons that we, the discerning public who are ultimately affected by these characters, should have already learned.
When I recently re-read the definition of the term, "malignant narcissism", I felt like I was sitting in the gallery of the House of Commons, watching Harper tell outrageous lies about his opponents (like how they support the Taliban or their family is a terrorist) under the libel protection afforded to him in the House, makeup running in its customary stream down the right side of his face, eyes flashing in that rare emotional occurrence mentioned above, lips pulled back against his teeth in an expression that more resembles a rabid dog about to attack than an actual, human smile:
Otto Kernberg described malignant narcissism as a syndrome characterized by a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-syntonic aggression. Some also may find an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and a sense of importance (grandiosity). Pollock wrote: "The malignant narcissist is presented as pathologically grandiose, lacking in conscience and behavioral regulation with characteristic demonstrations of joyful cruelty and sadism." Kernberg claimed that malignant narcissism should be considered part of a spectrum of pathological narcissism, which he saw as ranging from the Cleckley's antisocial character (today's psychopath) at the high end of severity, to malignant narcissism, to NPD at the low end.
Kernberg wrote that malignant narcissism can be differentiated from psychopathy because of the malignant narcissists' capacity to internalize "both aggressive and idealized superego precursors, leading to the idealization of the aggressive, sadistic features of the pathological grandiose self of these patients." According to Kernberg, the psychopaths' paranoid stance against external influences makes them unwilling to internalize even the values of the "aggressor," while malignant narcissists "have the capacity to admire powerful people, and can depend on sadistic and powerful but reliable parental images." Malignant narcissists, in contrast to psychopaths, are also said to be capable of developing "some identification with other powerful idealized figures as part of a cohesive 'gang' ... which permits at least some loyalty and good object relations to be internalized."
Malignant narcissism is a subset of the personality disorder, megalomania. Megalomania is mainly characterized by an acute delusion of grandeur, one that is sometimes difficult to identify when that person has managed to achieve for themselves some measure of actual grandeur, like becoming a dictator, or king, or perhaps trying to turn democratic office into a monarchy or dictatorship. Even the greatest and most destructive dictators and warlords in history have been unable to cover up their megalomaniacal tendencies; too great is the temptation to believe that they alone are humanly responsible for their position, that they were guided there by a divine force and their position is prophetic, that the banners, pictures, statues of oneself are what the people want to see, people whom the megalomaniac (and the small group of people who prop him up in order to push forth their own similar agendas) has convinced himself support him because of the coercive and forceful tactics he employs to maintain control over the populace.
The sources of megalomania are different in every individual who suffers from it, but, like psychopaths, they tryingly and tiresomely all seem to boil down to a combination of similar topics such as, "I don't like being told what to do", "I am better than all of them", "The other kids were mean to me", "I don't know who my Daddy is", "I have an immature grudge I won't get over", "I think being mean and vain is an acceptable alternative to forgiveness and compassion", "Those who remind me of those who hurt me deserve to be punished", "I get a sick pleasure out of watching other people suffer but I will always blame that on someone else", "I know better than everyone else", "I can't see my real self for the character I've created", and the most common, "I'm an hypocritical and unreflective spoiled brat who refuses to assume adult control over myself, while expecting exactly that from others".
Stephen Harper has, in an unprecedented act, reportedly removed all images of any other Canadian political leader from the PMO offices as well as from the government lounge of the House of Commons, and replaced them with images of himself. Even the picture of the Queen was removed and replaced with a picture of Stephen Harper and the Queen. Despite the best efforts of Harper's many biographers to paint him as some sort of "reluctant leader", Stephen Harper cannot cover up these megalomaniacal tendencies: the temptation is too great. He is too great.
My fellow Canadians, heed the following bit of information, straight from the mouth of human history, something we should all remember: Never, ever, has someone who displayed these traits been a leader with the intention of doing something good. Never, ever, has a megalomaniac in power changed the world for the better. There is always something else going on, whether just pure self-satisfaction, or something more sinister. It is not a blatant and obvious evil, where good is overlooked in favour of bad simply for the sake of it; megalomania is a complete disregard for either good or evil in the individual's never-ending quest for self-glorification. Stephen Harper may very well periodically do good things, and I'm willing to bet he cares as little about the results of it as he has already demonstrated he feels about doing something bad, like knowingly supporting sending POWs into situations of torture, or ignoring Canadians facing human rights conflicts abroad, lying at every turn, sneering at the political leanings of 2/3 of Canadians, or simply destroying peoples' careers and livelihoods in his quest for ultimate power.
So, what's really behind this then? What's that real hidden agenda alluded to earlier in this article? Brace yourself: you're going to be disappointed. You may feel your right hand uncontrollably form into the letter "L" and adhere itself to your forehead. You might find you develop a muscle disorder which causes your middle finger to spring into an erection every time you see or hear of Harper again. I mean, this is stupendously pathetic stuff, coming from a wannabe who has tried to create such a different history for himself, apparently unaware that when it comes to biography, what isn't said is just as present as what is.
Let me be clear. There is nothing wrong, nothing strange, about a person who had difficulty getting along with others as a child and adolescent. Only assholes make fun of other people for being nerds, or geeks - actually, only assholes make fun of people for the sake of making fun of people, period. There are few of us in Canada or anywhere else who did not bear some sort of traumatic event growing up: physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by family, friends, or peers. Many people had social experiences so painful or embarrassing they literally moved away and reinvented themselves after high school or university, to reemerge as a new person. After all, it is not how people treat you that makes the greatest statement about who you are; it's how you react to that treatment. People who have had experiences like this and lived to tell about it are inspiring, in fact; but in order to inspire you have to first admit the truth of your life and second, demonstrate that you have reflectively allowed it to change you for the better.
This is not the case with Stephen Harper. Of the three pro-Harper biographies and many, many articles I have read about him now, all they could muster up as biographical "proof" of the idyllic, gigglingly happy childhood he needs to convince us he had is one trip to Algonquin Park at the end of high school under the supervision of a teacher with a group of self-proclaimed "nerds", all of whom still referred to Harper merely as "quiet" and gave no indication of a personality whatsoever. There is one laughable quote from his little brother claiming that Stephen was "showing leadership skills" back in high school by "organizing his peers in his neighbourhood" (oh yes, we all fondly remember those types of kids). They make up for the lack of rhetoric on Harper's childhood by heavily leaning on the personalities of others - a page and a half describing the great personality and successful career of a man who doesn't seem to have a thing to say about Harper but that they went to school together, ten or more pages describing the parents and neighbourhood, all the while Harper is suspiciously absent.
In fact, in Harper's current life, there seems to be no witness from his pre-Calgary days. His wife, his 'friends', his colleagues, were all acquired in his twenties or thirties. This "quiet" boy who "showed leadership skills" in high school didn't manage to maintain one acquaintance from that time period, from a part of the country Harper can barely admit exists now, at every opportunity to be undermined and ridiculed by him, and who overwhelming voted against him as a politician. That must be some really effective leadership he demonstrated so early on.
From what isn't said in Harper's biographies, along with the few pictures included (none of which are older than 12 or younger than the mid-20s), one gets the very clear sense that this boy had a terrifically difficult time fitting in with his peers. The few peers they could round up to comment on Harper admittedly had their own extremely difficult time fitting in with their peers. One of the books makes great hay about how Harper chose not to be part of the "cool" group - the "cool" group is critically talked about just a wee bit much for someone who claims to be comfortable in their own shoes. The impression they give that the "cool" group only drinks and does drugs and is ultimately a group of inferior and misguided people shows how little he was able to understand those around him. Harper's earlier public references to having spent "part of his childhood" in Toronto, when in fact he graduated high school there and lived there for his entire childhood, along with his obvious disdain for Toronto and Ontario which he has displayed with abandon since becoming PM, also speaks volumes about the experience he had.
It's no surprise to discover then that immediately after high school Harper took off to Alberta, to a new life, to a society and religion completely the opposite of the Liberal, United Church, central Canadian upbringing he had had until then.
His biographies make a great deal out of dumbing down his involvement with the Christian Alliance church (sounds a lot like Canadian Alliance, hm?), calling him instead a "cerebral" participant. In other words, he doesn't buy into the literalist and fundamentalist teachings of these churches, he just likes to listen and think. You know how people routinely go to churches with theologies they don't adhere to, simply to listen and think, how they go every week, become part of the community, raise their family there, and eventually model the amalgamation of their political party after the amalgamation of their church with one it took over. Nope, not part of it at all. Cerebral. Very. The effort to which his biographers try to distract one from his fundamentalist leanings (to a group which believes Jesus is going to set up a new kingdom in Canada, by the way) actually shows just how much he is involved. Cerebrally.
Speaking of Stephen Harper's self-proclaimed oodles of brains, it's time to unveil the hidden agenda. It is as clear in his biographies as the story of his misfit childhood and ensuing social bitterness towards it and anything that reminds him of it. I hope you're sitting on your hands.
Stephen Harper wrote a masters' thesis in economics, criticizing pre-election government spending and how it affected the free market. He got a good grade on it and a lot of attention. It ended up making a prof think of recommending him to work for the fledgling Reform Party under Preston Manning, where he and his future puppet-master, Tom Flanagan (you know, the "eager" underling who offered the $1M life insurance policy to Chuck Cadman, unbeknownst to Harper?), worked together creating the policy that is today now part of the Conservative Party policy. Part of this policy expounds upon Harper's masters' thesis, and, like Marx and Engels before them (but not at all like Marx or Engels), Flanagan and Harper set about creating a new economic model, influenced greatly by their Christianity, upon which to govern a society that, like Marx and Engels before them (but not at all like Marx or Engels), sounds great on paper but in practice would cause the widespread poverty, social injustice, and grief of a great many people, and cause them to be controlled by a force that does not respect their rights and freedoms, part of which is an interventional government which fluidly reacts to the needs of the people, not a government that would sooner watch someone drown than throw them a life preserver.
Gee, I hope you weren't waiting for more. It's no more exciting than this. The truth of the story behind the making of our great leader, our genius in office, our strategic master, is nothing but the story of a megalomaniac with a malignant narcissism, unable to get over his childhood to the point it becomes part of the greater pack of lies his administration is building itself upon, a grudge-bearing nerd who in his attempt to cover up any reminder of his own nerdish leanings goes a little too far in trying to categorize his opponents as such. What we have here is an immature and conscienceless man who is using this country as an experiment to prove a theory posited in a university paper (which got him great attention) he can't get over, and for the ongoing attention he discovered after writing that paper which led to meeting the people who secured his success in politics, allowing him to simultaneously indulge his megalomania while holding fast to his grudges and punishing those who treated him badly in his erased history. This is a story about a radical Christian who denies his beliefs in order to win over what he shows with disdain is the moderate majority, who has bought into a story of a political parousia that includes Canada as the landing strip for Jesus' triumphant return to Earth.
Harper's biographies come across as a naïve fabrication that is entirely unable to be convincing, leaving the inference of the real story plain for all to see.
And there is no story like this, history reminds us, that results in someone who wishes to do good things for this world, or for his fellow man. This story has an inevitable ending, but Harper and his propaganda team will do their best to obfuscate the clues until it is too late to stop it.
Just remember, Harper is concerned with Harper, and what he says, thinks and does, is, like the magic mirror, no reflection on you.
- R.K. Finch