Reiner’s need

Many of the recent posts have had something to do with Anthony Reiner, specifically his moral and psychological weakness.

I’ve been trying to understand the things that are not only hurting Reiner, his psychological weakness, but are also hurting the people around him, his moral weakness. I’ve realised his moral weakness is his persecution of the drug user, implicitly informed by his psychological weakness, an authoritarian personality.

What I haven’t addressed so far is his need.

To paraphrase John Truby, Reiner’s need is what he must fulfil within himself in order to have a better life. I have to admit, I’m having difficulty reconciling Reiner’s need with Adam’s, knowing how their individual needs interact.

The events of Carrion transform Adam from a self-righteous policeman into, what I can only describe as, a caring insurgent. I realise that reads like an oxymoron but essentially that’s what he becomes. By the end he cares about Christine, putting her needs first, for the first time in their relationship, even though what she asks devastates him. From this personal crisis comes his new moral action, he picks up a gun to fight prohibition. The story ends only after he has taken this action, finally making the moral argument against security and for freedom.

What does all this mean when considering Reiner and his need? What must he fulfil within himself in order to have a better life, and how does he argue for security? I think the answer to this question can be found in his authoritarian personality.

In “Reiner and the totalitarian mindset” I noted Alfonso Montuori’s characterisation of the totalitarian mindset as a response to the stress of contemporary pluralism. Basically we live in complex times, full of uncertainty, and feel threatened. Backed into a corner we have a tendency to succumb to black-and-white solutions.

When I translate this back to Reiner, it indicates a course of action. Adam’s refusal to kill Christine turns Reiner’s reality upside down. Until this point he considered Adam a protege, and so perceives his refusal to kill Christine as nothing short of a treasonous betrayal. He has a psychological need to restore order, return Adam to the fold. Unable to make that happen, he has a moral need to destroy him.

Reiner’s attempts to enforce prohibition are his attempts to make the moral argument against freedom and for security. The punch, counter-punch, of antagonist and protagonist play out as Adam and Reiner fight over the kind of world they will live in.

Reiner’s argument for security is crushed by Adam’s argument for freedom. If this were Reiner’s story instead of Adam’s, the argument for security would crush the argument for freedom.

One final thing. At some point I will have to turn all of this conjecture into a screenplay, but until I’m clear about each character that seems like a folly.


Margaret Thatcher’s authoritarian personality

Margaret Thatcher died on Monday. In death, as in life, she divides opinion.

Personally I think she was the worst thing that happened to this country since World War Two. All the problems we currently face have their genesis in her premiership.

The financial collapse of 2008 was a direct result, not just of the economic strategies she initiated, but more importantly a way of thinking she promoted. The senior managers and business brains of the banking sector, were the Young Turks of the financial industry when she came to power. The mantra of rampant self-interest she espoused, and they took to with such vigour, is the same “I’m all-right Jack” attitude, that lets these big-bonused-bankers do business the way they have and continue to.

Her devotees say she was a strong leader. For me she was a “strong leader” only to those who need that kind of guidance. To the rest of us she was nothing more than a bully. I think there was a callousness in her leadership that was nothing short of sadistic. She had a viciousness about her that I see in the “tough decisions” fiscal policy of George Osborne. No to a plan “B”, “C” or “D” is all-right when your worth £4.3 million, have a Notting Hill property worth £1.8 million and a wife who’s father is a life peer. A life peer who interestingly was also a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.

Recent entries about Carrion, specifically those regarding Anthony Reiner, have made me realise something about Margaret Thatcher. Her success was due in no small part to her authoritarian personality. At this point it might be a good idea for you to take a look at Erich Fromm’s 1957 article “The Authoritarian Personality“. I referenced it in posts that grapple with the totalitarian mindset of prohibition and Reiner’s authoritarian personality.

Fromm makes some interesting insights, notably the symbiotic relationship between the passive and active authoritarian. If I were to characterise Reiner as a passive-authoritarian, an individual who belittles himself so he can, as part of something greater, become great himself. I would characterise Thatcher as the active-authoritarian, the sadist who feels strong because she has incorporated others.

To those who say she encouraged people to be free of the state, to go out there and do it for themselves, I say the free market is not freedom. Ask anyone struggling to pay a utility bill, or trying to buy a house, or even secure a living wage, how free do they feel? Market freedom is only freedom to those who have. If you already have it, you’re free to take it somewhere else. What if you don’t?

That argument aside, one of the most interesting thing for me, in realising Thatcher had an authoritarian personality, is realising how many people have the emotional need to follower her. The irony of her message of self-reliance and freedom is actually a message of subjugation. You must supplicate yourself at the alter of Thatcher or you’re one of “them” and if you’re one of “them” you’re vilified, blamed for everything that is wrong with the world. If we rid ourselves of them, things will be better for us. That people is the dynamic of totalitarianism. Which is perhaps Thatcher’s real legacy.

Personally I do not mourn her passing, because unfortunately I have to survive the world she created.

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