Posted by TAG - March 25, 2015 | Book Review

Commentary on Otto Kernberg’s Ideology, Conflict and Leadership in Groups and Organizations (1998)

by Thomas Altfather Good

for Angela DeSanno and Maureen Italiano



“Künstliche Massen” — Photo: Thomas Altfather Good

PREFACE

This impressive book from 1998 might better be titled The Mass Psychology of Authoritarianism: In Groups Large and Small. The work, Otto F. Kernberg’s single and singular foray into social theory, is a masterpiece of Freudian analysis of Mass Psychology. A number of core concepts are borrowed from other thinkers, most from the Object Relations school, but it doesn’t read like a patchwork effort. Kernberg ties it all together and expands on the synthesis in a narrative that flows well despite being full of Freudian terminology. In addition to the jargon (appropriate given the target audience) Kernberg coins some neologisms that encapsulate pathology in an almost poetic manner, not unlike Herbert Marcuse. And that’s a selling point: if you like the work of the Frankfurt School, in particular Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno, you will probably enjoy this book. It expands on Adorno’s theory of the Authoritarian Personality and offers an understated tie-in to Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization. In a brief passage dealing with Eros, Kernberg argues for a workplace that leaves room for the presence of Eros (‘sublimated love’) – for the sake of creativity and fulfillment of human needs. It is precisely that humanistic perspective that makes the book, which covers a somewhat dry topic, live and breathe.

If the book has a failing it lies in the fact that it is made up of a collection of articles from a variety of professional journals. Despite some judicious editing by Kernberg there are some redundancies. This isn’t a fatal flaw as some of the arguments that appear in different forms in the various chapters are key concepts and a bit of repetition helps with the digestion of some complex ideas.

It is worth noting that the book ends as a general text at the end of Chapter 11, the final chapter of Part Three. Part Four (“Applications to Psychoanalytic Education”) is specific to psychoanalytic educational institutions. Nonetheless I read the section carefully and am none the worse for the experience. In Chapter 14 , (entitled “Thirty Ways to Destroy the Creativity of Psychoanalytic Candidates”) Kernberg displays a bit of edge and a sardonic sense of humor . The book concludes with Part Five – “Ideology, Morality, and the Political Process.” This section should be of interest to social theorists. The first chapter in Part Five, entitled “The Temptations of Conventionality” is brilliant and a delight for fans of the Frankfurter Schule. Kernberg discusses Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s theories on Mass Culture (what Adorno called “The Culture Industry”) and concurs with their findings. He also discusses, albeit briefly, the theories of Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse. It feels as though this chapter is a bonus track on a CD as simply appears out of thin air – but is truly a gem. It is followed by a chapter on “Ideology and Bureaucracy as Social Defenses Against Aggression” which is as close as Kernberg comes to a comprehensive summary of the main ideas he’s presenting. It’s good but oddly precedes the final chapter – a discussion of psychopathology in mainstream political campaigns. Overall Parts Four and Five don’t add much to the core ideas that appear, in various forms, in the bulk of the book. It is the central themes that I will discuss here as Kernberg’s analysis of dysfunction in organizations, large and small, is not only remarkably deft and accurate but something that really needs to be read by as many people of conscience as possible.

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Posted by Roy Murphy - March 14, 2015 | News


Borough President Eric Adams and attorney Norman Siegel marching to City Hall
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

NEW YORK — March 7, 2015. On Saturday 300 people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge in New York to commemorate the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, 50 years ago.

The 1965 Selma to Montgomery march was marked by the extreme violence of state troopers and local posse members who attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs, tear gas, mounted police and police dogs.

The violence was televised and seen by millions of Americans and people world wide. The resulting outcry led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year.

Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, organized Saturday’s commemoration and led the march arm-in-arm with civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, preceded by a bass-and-snare drum band.

Many in the crowd carried signs protesting the deaths of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri — recent victims of police shootings.


The Brooklyn chapter of the NAACP
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

President Obama traveled to Selma to mark the anniversary and said, “If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done.” The President said that civil rights marchers years ago “proved that nonviolent change is possible and that love and hope can conquer hate.”

Borough President Adams said Selma has become a central symbol in the fight for social justice. “Selma is no longer just a location. It is a concept, and a mindset, and a belief,” he said.

Adams used the occasion to promote the launch of a project called Ten Thousand People Who Care. “Instead of demonizing Muslims we must make room for everybody,” he said.

“In the early days blacks couldn’t wear clothes made of the cotton they picked. The early Chinese built the railroads but couldn’t ride on the trains,” he said, commenting on the progress made in the area of civil rights.

His project aims to organize ten thousand people from all walks of life to actively work on improving their communities, continuing the struggle for civil rights.

“Brooklyn must show the entire country how to move forward,” Adams said.


A drummer marks time for the marchers
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 


Roy Murphy is a regular contributor to NLN and a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

by Thomas Altfather Good




(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

NEW YORK (Dec. 21, 2014) – In the wake of the deaths of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Make the Road New York lead organizer Jose Lopez gave the following statement on behalf of the organization’s 16,000 Latino and black members:

 
“Today we express our condolences to the families of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were killed yesterday in Brooklyn. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the family of the young woman who was shot in Baltimore by the same man. We know the grief of loss all too well. We often find ourselves mourning the loss of family members, neighbors, and loved ones to violence — whether at the hands of the police or violence within our communities. This grief grounds us in the ongoing work to ensure safety, dignity, and respect for all in our communities.

 
“All attempts made to link the tragic death of these two officers to the local or national movement — which has called for a justice system that works for all — is dangerous and misguided. This is a time when we must all stand together against senseless violence.”



Thomas Altfather Good is a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Posted by TAG - December 14, 2014 | News

by Thomas Altfather Good




“Black Lives Matter”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

NEW YORK — December 13, 2014. Several thousand New Yorkers took to the streets on Saturday to express outrage at police for their role as trigger-men in the numerous deaths of unarmed African American men and boys — and at the judicial system for its history of exonerating police involved in these killings.

On a cold, windy, Winter day, protesters – a multi-generational, multicultural mix – marched from Washington Square to One Police Plaza. Their beef? The list of young Black men — one only 12-years-old, not yet a man — killed by police is lengthy and growing with alarming regularity. As if that wasn’t enough to bring protesters into the streets prosecutors seem unable to convince grand juries that sufficient probable cause exists for an indictment, often despite damning evidence. District attorneys appear inept, unable to obtain a mere indictment — not a conviction, an indictment. From Ferguson, Missouri, to Staten Island, New York, district attorneys seem incompetent. In Staten Island, Dan Donovan failed to secure an indictment for the Eric Garner homicide — in a town where it is often said that any DA could indict a ham sandwich. The possibility of complicity has been raised, further fueling discord. And on Saturday 30,000 protesters descended on Manhattan to express their discontent with the defenders of civilization. The solidarity and civility of the marchers, as good an example of diversity as you would find anywhere, made many observers, including this reporter, proud to be a New Yorker.



A multigenerational set of Sisters
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



The ever-expanding List
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



A march marshal
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



A legal system — and a chokehold?
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



For some activists it’s been a long struggle
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



The UAW contingent
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)




“Proud to be out in the streets today with my UAW sisters and brothers
and New Yorkers of conscience as we marched for justice for
Eric Garner and all those who have suffered
at the hands of police misconduct and prosecutorial indifference.”
– Scott Sommer, UAW Region 9A Subregional Director

(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



A UAW activist from Local 2325
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



“I am Eric Garner”`
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



“Stop Police Brutality…”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



A circle of hope
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



No more Mr. Nice Guy…
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)



“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)


“The failure of the District Attorney in Staten Island to obtain
an indictment in the killing of Eric Garner at the hands of the
NYPD is not only shocking to the conscience, but an absurd and
outrageous result
in light of publicly available evidence.

Recent incidents of abusive police actions in Ferguson, Staten Island,
and Brooklyn, cannot go without those responsible being held
accountable. In those places where the local authorities fail to
act, it is incumbent that the Department of Justice step up and
seek justice not just for the victims, but to attack poisonous
policing practices.

Julie Kushner, Director, UAW Region 9A



Thomas Altfather Good is a proud member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Posted by TAG - | News

by Roy Murphy


Climate vigil religious leaders holding “lights for Lima” in Union Square
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
NEW YORK — December 7, 2014. More than 100 protesters of all faiths held a candlelit vigil in Union Square on the eve of the latest round on international talks in Lima, Peru on climate change organized by the United Nations — ovr 1,000 vigils were planned around the world under the rubric #lightforlima in Washington DC, London, Canada, India, UK, Germany, Nigeria, Israel, the Philippines, Brazil, Australia, Japan and Bangladesh and other countries.

 


Climate justice is a moral issue
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

In New York about a dozen religious leaders said a few words and a prayer for the success of the latest round of climate change talks. They also honored the memory of those who have lost their lives pursuing climate justice, including 57 environmental activists murdered in Peru since 2002.

Organizer Catherine Skopic cited in particular the dangers offered by the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), an international so-called “trade” agreement which will prevent local people from defending their environment against global corporations. The agreement is being negotiated in secret by government agencies and corporate representatives.


Protestors for action to combat climate change in Dag Hammarskjold Square
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

In a related story – on December 10, International Human Rights Day, about 50 protesters of all ages gathered beside the United Nations in New York to demand that world governments take decisive action to combat climate change. The meeting, organized by 350NYC.org and co-sponsored by more than 30 other groups, came together despite the light snow and cold weather.

Amongst the speakers were two youngsters, Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, 14, and his brother Itzcuauhtli, 11 years old. They are indigenous environmental activists from Boulder, Colorado, who were brought up in the Aztec tradition. They have spent most of their young lives dedicated to protecting the environment. “I gave my first speech at a climate change rally when I was six years old,” said Xiuhtezcatl.


Xiuhtezcatl (left) & Itzcuauhtli Roske-Martinez
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

On October 27, 45 days ago, Itzcuauhtli decided to make himself heard by not speaking. His brother said hundreds of children from around the world are sending photos wearing green wrist bands of support.

 


Roy Murphy is a regular contributor to NLN and a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Posted by TAG - December 9, 2014 | News

by Thomas Altfather Good




Calling for justice for Eric Garner – and his family
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — December 7, 2014. On Pearl Harbor Day a group of Staten Island clergy and parishioners used prayer to demand justice for a day that will live in infamy: the day Eric Garner died while being arrested by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who to date has eluded prosecution despite massive nationwide protests.

 




Assemblyman Matt Titone (left) with vigilers at Tompkinsville Park
(Across the street from where Eric Garner died)
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




Reverend Kathlyn Barrett-Layne
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




Rev. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne being interviewed by NY1 reporter Aaron Dickens
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)




Demanding a better world – for the children
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




One of the Island’s pastors leads a group prayer
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




Praying for justice
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 




The rally site: two doors down from the place where Eric Garner died
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 

 


Thomas Altfather Good is a proud member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Posted by TAG - | News

by Thomas Altfather Good

 
Illustrator Nick Thorkelson has created a cartoon that depicts the ideas of one of NLN’s favourite thinkers: Herbert Marcuse. The panels shown here are the start of a project Thorkelson is working on in collaboration with our old friend Paul Buhle. Stay tuned and we’ll let you know when the book is available — in the interim have a look at a great cartoon that has as its subject matter the so-called “Guru of the New Left.”
 

All art work is copyright by Nick Thorkelson and used with permission. Special thanks to our old friend Paul Buhle.

by Roy Murphy


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

NEW YORK — December 5, 2014. This week saw a series of turbulent nationwide protests that escalated in volume as each protest drew on the emotions and demands of the others.

 
Wednesday, December 3, 2014 – A new organization, #UStired2, organized a national day of action in more than 43 cities across the United States on two days notice. It was seeking action on the 43 students from the Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa, who disappeared in Mexico on September 26, 2014.

 
The organization named itself when Mexico’s attorney general abruptly cut off a press conference on the missing students by saying, “Enough, I am tired.”

 
About 40 people in downtown Manhattan joined the nation-wide protests demanding a US Senate hearing on US military aid to Mexico. U.S. law obliges the U.S. government to cut off aid to security forces who violate human rights.

 
A speaker drew applause when he said that militarization of efforts to combat conflicts affects not just Mexico, but Colombia, Venezuela, Gaza, and Ferguson, Missouri.

 


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
He said, “The 43 are not dead yet. The Mexican government wants to call them dead and close the issue. Their only crime was to demand a better life.”

 
#UStired2 said, “The first step in the process is to stop “Plan México,” a multi-billion dollar U.S. aid package that has done nothing to reduce drug traffic into the U.S., and has instead supported a corrupt government using the drug war as cover for a war on its own people.”

 
It is reported that the local mayor of Iguala in Mexico thought the students would disrupt a speech by his wife, so he ordered the police to arrest them. The police handed the students over to a local drug cartel. They haven’t been seen since.

 
Investigations revealed several mass graves in the area, but so far no human remains have been identified.

 


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
Thursday, December 4, 2014, midday – A diverse group of 400 gathered outside City Hall in Manhattan to support the call of fast food workers across the country for a minimum wage of $15 an hour.

 


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
They were part of low-wage workers in more than 190 cities who walked off the job. Employees from discount and convenience stores, as well as workers from 10 of the nation’s busiest airports, joined in.

 


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
Protesting workers in New York were diverse in their age, gender and race — and concerned about issues extending beyond the workplace. They held a four minute and 30 second silence in remembrance of Michael Brown, who was left dead in a pool of blood, uncovered, on the public street in Ferguson for four and a half hours before police moved the body.

 
One speaker said, “If we don’t do it together, no one will have justice. And we demand justice!”

 


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
Thursday, December 4, 2014, evening – Thursday night, more than 7,000 gathered in Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, and there were smaller protests elsewhere in the city and other boroughs. They were protesting yet another grand jury failure to indict a police officer who killed an unarmed African American man.

 
Similar large protests were held in many other major cities across America.

 
The previous day a grand jury refused to indict the police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner. Garner died after being placed in an apparent chokehold by police in Staten Island. The decision came a week after the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, made the same decision following the shooting of Michael Brown. In both cases the victims were African American — and the police officers were white.

 


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
The Foley Square crowd was made up of all sorts – all races, all ages, all walks of life. After the rally, many went to the Manhattan Bridge and the West Side Highway, temporarily shutting them down.

 


(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
Police arrested over 200. The rallies in New York and elsewhere were larger and more numerous than the previous night when the Garner decision was announced.

 
One of the new strategies employed by protestors is a spontaneous redirection of their efforts. They arrived at the Hudson Tunnel and found it blocked by police, so they immediately went to the West Side Highway. Or they suddenly gathered in Times Square. Instead of going where the police department allows them so they can be hemmed in and “controlled,” they exercise their right of peaceful assembly wherever they can. Some observors say they change direction so rapidly that even social media cannot keep up.

 
Huffington Post posted all of Eric Garner’s last words, recorded by a bystander, as the full headline of its lead story on the protests:

“Get away for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it.

It stops today.

Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone.

I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. please please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe.”

 

 


Roy Murphy is a regular contributor to NLN and a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Posted by TAG - December 4, 2014 | News
by Thomas Altfather Good




Marchers taking to the street, heading for the 120 Precinct
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)
 
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — December 3, 2014. Shortly after the no-indictment decision of the grand jury investigating NYPD officer Pantaleo’s role in the homicide of Eric Garner stunned Islanders took to the streets to protest.


A young woman channels Marvin Gaye by asking, “What’s Going On?”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)
 
On Wednesday a grand jury declined to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo on any charges relating to his role in the death of Eric Garner. The verdict stunned New Yorkers as the NYC medical examiner had ruled the death a homicide – a diagnosis underscored by a video that went viral shortly after the incident. The video appeared to show Pantaleo using a chokehold during a botched arrest of Garner – for selling loose cigarettes. In the video Pantaleo can be seen pressing Garner’s face against the sidewalk as Garner repeats, “I can’t breathe.”


A protester holding a (partial) list of the Fallen.
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)
 
After the grand jury decision, residents of the Tompkinsville area assembled at the spot where Garner died, to express grief and frustration at the lack of an indictment. Suddenly an impromptu march to the 120 Precinct began. The marchers blocked Richmond Terrace as they advanced on the NYPD precinct. The march and subsequent rally were peaceful, despite the anguish of the participants.


A young woman holding vigil at the spot where Eric Garner died.
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)
 


Click Here To Read A Petition (from Democracy For America) Demanding Officer Pantaleo Be Fired


A CBS newsman phones in the story of the protest
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)
 


A photojournalist walking behind a protester who is chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)
 

 


NLN editor Thomas Altfather Good is a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981



Click Here To See A Brief Video From The Protest
Posted by TAG - November 23, 2014 | News


Protestors on the steps of Manhattan’s State Supreme Court

(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

NEW YORK — November 18, 2014. On Tuesday, 50 protesters gathered in front of the State Supreme Court buildings in Manhattan to hold a “KXL=Game Over NYC” press conference. The event, one of many held across the country, was organized by 350NYC.org. It was designed to put last-minute pressure on the Senate, which voted on whether to approve the pipeline that evening. The vote failed.

 
Zephyr Teachout, who gained a third of the votes when she challenged Andrew Cuomo for the governorship, told the protesters, “They want a 1,700-mile pipeline to transport the dirtiest oil on the planet. The pipeline may not go through New York City, but millions of gallons of salt water did go through our subway system.”

 
New York city is cited as one of the three major cities in the world most threatened by the rising waters caused by climate change.

 


Zephyr Teachout addressing the protesters

(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
Teachout said Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York senators, should not just vote against the pipeline, but should speak out every day against fossil fuel use. She said that’s also true for New York governor Andrew Cuomo, former New York senator Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

 
“It’s time to stop digging, to stop fracking. The nation that poisons its air chokes itself,” said Teachout.

 
Alexis Smallwood, an activist with Rockaway Wildfire, a community organization that sprang up after Hurricane Sandy, lived through the destructive effects of the hurricane. She ended her speech by bouncing up and down and chanting, “We’re all fired up, we can’t take it no more!”

 


Bethany and Rufus performing at the protest

(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
The Bethany and Rufus musical duo sang two spirited protest songs, helped by many of the protesters during the choruses.

 
According to 350NYC.org, the thousands of jobs the pipeline would create would last only one or two years. The CEO of TransCanada conceded that it will retain only 50 employees in the United States once the pipeline is finished.

 
The Keystone XL pipeline bill went down to a very narrow defeat: fifty-nine senators voted for the pipeline bill, one short of the 60 needed to clear a filibuster. Joining all of the Senate’s Republicans, 14 Democrats voted for the bill.

 
Legislation to force approval of the pipeline will likely make a comeback as soon as the new Congress is sworn in in January, when a bill will have more supporters in the Senate.

 
“Republicans are committed to getting Keystone approved,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the Senate floor. If not today, McConnell said, “then a new majority after the beginning of the year will be taking this up and sending it down to the desk of the president.”

 


NLN contributor Roy Murphy is a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981