We’re going straight from Covid groupthink to Ukraine groupthink. From Michael Brenner at consortiumnews.com:
Michael Brenner says the frenzy engendered by the Ukraine conflict reinforces a herd mentality that cries out for critical thinking.
Accurate perception, precise language and objectivity are the first victims of war and conflict. For good reason. Emotion eclipses reason. The “we/they” prism refracts and distorts our thoughts. The individual is swept up into the mass mood. Frenzy roils just below the surface.
Experiences of war and conflict, though, are not uniform. They vary. Whose blood is being shed, in what quantities? Are we the direct protagonist or just the empathetic supporters of certain combatants? How closely and why do we identify with one side? How much do we hate the other side? Is our collective self vulnerable or confident? What is the pre-existing anxiety level?
Consequently, each situation is peculiar. A country’s subjective response and attendant behavior, therefore, can be highly revealing.
Unfortunately, observation is blurred and selective. We are poor witnesses to ourselves. Sometimes, we never do gain the perspective needed for a clear rendering of what happened, how we felt and what we did. Oddly, the more peculiar the experience, the less the inclination and ability to reflect on it.
Such is the case in regard to the current Ukraine affair. That singular feature is itself noteworthy. For that is not due to indifference – quite the opposite. Washington is the producer and would-be director of the drama as well as the co-star.
The feature that cries out for our critical attention is the frenzy that the Ukraine conflict has engendered. This despite the absence of an American military presence, no obvious national interest of the first order at stake, and it’s erupting at a time when one would have thought the country’s appetite for this sort of thing satiated by two decades of endless, failed wars in nearly every part of the world.
My principal concern here is not to answer the question of “why?” I have tried to address that in previous commentaries here and here. Instead, the aim is to highlight those characteristics of America’s collective national persona brought into stark relief by our reaction to events.