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Mattias Desmet is a professor of clinical psychology and Educational Sciences at the Ghent University, Belgium and a practicing psychotherapist. He is the author ofThe Psychology of Totalitarianism (Chelsea Green Publishing). Since he introduced the concept of “mass formation psychosis” into the arena of public discourse some months ago, his ideas have been discussed widely, especially in relation to the bizarre politics of Covid-19. He is also the author of over one hundred peer-reviewed academic papers and recipient of many prizes in his professional field.

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

34 Responses to “KunstlerCast 359 — A Conversation with Mattias Desmet; Mass Formation and the Totalitarian Mind” Subscribe

  1. Bruceweb June 19, 2022 at 4:00 pm #

    This podcast certainly “resonated,” with me. Thanks to both of you.

  2. tom clark June 19, 2022 at 4:46 pm #

    Resonated w/ me too. This was a toughie…thanks, Jimbo, for taking it on. Too bad the interviewee comes across as a bit of an asshole.

  3. Godfree Roberts June 19, 2022 at 5:14 pm #

    Best interviewee yet, Jim!

    China now leads in all fields of scientific research, both in volume and quality.

    Interestingly, despite their volume, only one Chinese researcher makes it into Retraction Watch’s Ten Biggest Plagiarists.

  4. MaryQueen June 19, 2022 at 8:06 pm #

    This was excellent; I loved hearing especially about Solzhenitsyn’s experience on holding onto one’s morality making them stronger. I’m working HARD on that right now. Not only did I retain it during the covid b.s., but now during the trans scourge.

    Thank you, James & Mattias!

  5. fattigmann June 20, 2022 at 8:22 am #

    “The Reign of Quantity” is a book by Rene Guenon whose title summarizes our current predicament. Objective numerical values have supplanted objective human values. Numbers have underlied Western civ. since Pythagoras; yet the groundwork for total numerical dominance has been lain at least since the middle ages with Occam, Aquinas, and the Nominalists. The Protestant Reformation and subsequent “Enlightenment” represents the breaking point. We are living in a Protestant atheistic world where people worship themselves and obey individual immediate impulses as encouraged by mass media culture. This can all be easily understood within the framework of philosophy–a discipline which itself was unfortunately undermined by the reign of quantity.

  6. lsewell June 21, 2022 at 10:01 am #

    Such a good podcast! Thank you!!

  7. Walter B June 22, 2022 at 11:46 am #

    I was familiar with Mattias Desmet’s work and have listened to interviews he has done before, so it was no surprise how brilliantly he described our current conundrum. I was almost jealous of you being able to converse with him directly James but am totally grateful for the superb job that you did with this work, thank you.

    I see where you get your hope from, for as you stated, humanity and the forces of nature have always been able to make correction whenever the top goes spinning out of control. Perhaps my concern, or maybe even my fear is of how bad it is going to get before that happens which is augmented by the fact that I cannot see any real forces working against the evil agenda being implemented right now that seem capable of thwarting it.

    Both you and Mattias was absolutely correct in the idea that maintaining our humanity in the face of evil is an absolute that must be maintained at all times. Personally, I consider this as living out my faith as a try my best to be to be Christian, a real one, not in big box organized form, but in either case, the attitude is the same to be sure.

    Excellent work, well done, carry on. Thank you.

    • DyersEve June 22, 2022 at 12:06 pm #

      Nothing in the material came across as anything but affirming my own Christian beliefs. Excellent and challenging listen. JK needs more podcasts!!!

      • Walter B June 22, 2022 at 6:05 pm #

        Agreed. I watched an interview with Richard Wolff that a friend sent me during which one of the things Professor Wolff described in detail was Marxism. From what he described, theoretical Marxism has never been implemented in any form of government ever created even if some attempts did adopt some of the ideas. One of the things that was made clear was that while pure Marxist government, while a very interesting concept, is not really possible because of human flaws and could not be established and function as it was meant to in theory.

        In reality, there are no forms of government that can remain functional forever, as human greed and corruption will always spoil the soup due to the inevitability of evildoers following no rules and decent people tending to be contained by such rules.

        Even Christianity cannot operate flawlessly here on Earth due to human failures, and that is why for me at least the Return of Jesus will be the only time that the problems that we see today will be corrected. I’m looking forward to it even though there will be really tough times to get through beforehand. Keep the faith!

  8. Dogface June 23, 2022 at 9:03 am #

    As someone married to a doctor, I’ve always been inclined to believe the science. She’s had a number of unvaxxed patients die. She also has had a number of vaxxed patients get covid despite the vaccine.
    I’ve gotten my vaccines. My wife and children have as well.
    But covid hasn’t paralyzed us – we visited 13 countries during covid, and had a great time. We live in nature, which helps mitigate anxiety.
    This episode has given me pause and I wonder if I should apologize to some friends I’ve lost over the vaccine issue.

    But I do have a question: If the science on vaccines is all bullshit, are we to make the leap that science on climate change is also bullshit? Is climate change not happening? If not, why not?

    I also must say I rolled my eyes when JHK stated that the left’s criticism’s are “vicious” and leading to totalitarianism or the gulag. Last I checked, people can be blocked on twitter. You can turn off facebook. The number of people who have lost jobs at the hands of the far right is far greater than those who have lost jobs due to woke non-sense. Moreover, the left (which he conflates with the Democratic party, bizarrely) has no power and no guns and no means to herd anyone into the gulags. The guns are in the hands of the right, the police are 90% Republicans, the courts are right, and the military ain’t singing kumbaya.

    So, please, enlighten me.
    Cheers.

    • JackStraw June 27, 2022 at 4:01 pm #

      I don’t think you recognize that you’re are a central character in their discussion, but you seem to be slowly waking up, which I deduct from you being here.

      The left has control of all three branches of government and they have taken over the military which they are systematically destroying with woke insanity while driving out the men that would actually defend this country.

      Few republicans would agree with your estimation of police party affiliation after watching them stand by during the destruction of major cities during the last 2 years, and doing nothing while conservatives were hunted in the streets with impunity.

  9. Dogface June 23, 2022 at 12:22 pm #

    I reached out to a friend and asked him to listen to the episode. He texted his running commentary as he listened:
    _____
    HIM: “2 minutes in. It’s horseshit. Pop psych dressed up as science. Hannah Arendt would’ve gotten vaccinated.
    The stuff that strikes me as true is pretty obvious. Desperate, anxious people are easier to manipulate. Give that man a Nobel.
    This Iran example is very scientific. He “talked” to someone who saw it with her own eyes!

    And his discourse crap is either straight out of thomas kuhn or the usual anti-academic reactionary twaddle.”

    ““the eternal, ethical principles of humanity.” He’s a jordan peterson wannabe. You have my permission to ignore him. And Kunstler is a Rogan wannabe. We suppressed Covid treatments! Pushed dangerous vaccines?”

    If he wants me to agree that scientific research can have a political dimension, whoop de fucking doo. Welcome to capitalism, asshole. ”

    Again, that pharma shouldn’t be trusted to act in the best interests of public health is not exactly einstein level shit. This guy wants to dress up skepticism as some holy apotheosis.

    Christ – now there’s an ad for buying gold. Solid sign that the audience is full of preppers who think they’re smarter than us suckers.

    ME: Hey – at least it isn’t crypto!

    HIM:Now he’s quoting Chomsky. And mis-using manufacturing consent. Chomsky got vaccinated.

    ME: Harrumph! He qualifies his support of Chomsky!

    HIM: That doesn’t really make it any better. Presumably that means he dislikes Chomsky’s politics but finds his analysis of power structures and media manipulation useful to prove that injecting bleach will cure you.
    He thinks he’s smarter than all other academics. Always a good sign. You ever listen to Decoding the Gurus? I’m going to nominate him.
    Now he’s complaining while saying “you’ll never hear me complaining”
    In love with his victimization. Need to stop listening.

    ME: No one is more vicious than the left!

    HIM: “The American Jacobins of today – the democratic party.” That’s Kunstler. “you’re dealing with psychopaths and perverts” That’s this asshole again. Biden is Hitler. ”

    Anyone who says nothing is knowable but seems to know everything should be regarded with suspicion.
    ___________

    So, that’s one man’s opinion. I hope this free speech forum will not censor it.

    • Walter B June 23, 2022 at 11:03 pm #

      If you are as dedicated to the preservation of free speech as you imply, I hope that you commit yourself to preserving that inalienable right as vigorously as we are.

      • Dogface June 24, 2022 at 11:36 am #

        How are you “vigorously” preserving this inalienable right? Who is this “we” of which you speak? Am I supposed to take your word on this?

        • Walter B June 27, 2022 at 8:54 am #

          Glad you asked. I supported the US Constitution by getting involved in my local government, getting elected, taking the oath to defend the Constitution, especially the 1st Amendment, and then living up to it by promoting equal access and opportunity for the residents of my community to speak their minds freely without prejudice or constraint. Our open public meetings were accessed by all via Zoom and anyone stating any opinion was thank personally by me and those that supped me (that’s the “we”), and never talked down to or degraded like the new “my way or the highway” crowd does so angrily today.

          Get involved in your community and do something about the problems or sit at a keyboard and bitch and moan, seems like a no-brainer choice to me.

    • fattigmann June 24, 2022 at 7:40 am #

      You’re friend’s running commentary is not useful. Mostly guilt by association, comparing Kunstler with people he presumes are wrong, therefore automatically dismissing all of the arguments. Your friend does not do the hard work of logically parsing individual points. Logical Fallacy of false generalization.

      • Dogface June 24, 2022 at 12:04 pm #

        As I said, my friend was extemporaneously texting while listening to the podcast while walking a job site for his construction company. He was doing actual “hard work” at the time.

        Kunstler’s guest name-drops Chomsky and Arendt as if they would have any part of his analysis of media or want any part of the Anti-Vax movement.
        Could you google which logical fallacy that represents?

        Then he says a “friend” witnessed an Iranian betray her own parents.
        That’s some attribution. Seems sus.

        And Kunstler, frankly is a bit ridiculous when he talks about the “woke mob” when right wing mobs quite literally just lay siege to the capital.

        “Your friend does not do the hard work of logically parsing individual points.”
        Uh… Neither do you.

        • Walter B June 24, 2022 at 5:30 pm #

          As I posted on today’s edition, I have a brother and sister in law’s entire family that is fully vaxed AND boosted and are very sick with Covid right now, with my sister-in-law projectile vomiting and swearing that she has never been sicker in her entire life. Clearly firsthand data for me and my family that these jabs and those that shill them are wrong, dead wrong, so choose you sides and take you shots or not and let the chips fall where they may.

          They used to hang snake oil salesmen in the old days, now they idolize them. It appears that once you are programmed to consume without question, you will do what you are told. Oh well, free will is a wonderful thing, I hope it never becomes illegal.

        • fattigmann June 27, 2022 at 8:20 am #

          Logical Fallacy: Tu Quoque.

        • JackStraw June 27, 2022 at 4:06 pm #

          “Lay siege to the capital”. So the most armed group of people in the US showed up to lay seige without any weapons?

          You are a proud member of the idiocracy, as is your friend that you hold in such high esteem.

  10. craazyman June 25, 2022 at 6:53 am #

    I really appreciate this interview and the recognition of the mania that has infected the public psyche. But the phenomenon, in my view, is not so easily traced to contemporary causes. Nor. Is it easy to describe why it occurs. It seems to be a natural phenomenon capable of presenting itself almost anywhere in history. Here is Gibbon from Decline and Fall of Roman Empire Chapter XL on Constantinople just before the reign of Justinian, where color factions (sound familiar??) were slaughtering each other in the streets.

    “Constantinople adopted the follies, though not the virtues, of ancient Rome; and the same factions which had agitated the circus, raged with redoubled fury in the hippodrome. Under the reign of Anastasius, this popular frenzy was inflamed by religious zeal; and the greens, who had treacherously concealed stones and daggers under baskets of fruit, massacred, at a solemn festival, three thousand of their blue adversaries. 44 From this capital, the pestilence was diffused into the provinces and cities of the East, and the sportive distinction of two colors produced two strong and irreconcilable factions, which shook the foundations of a feeble government. 45 The popular dissensions, founded on the most serious interest, or holy pretence, have scarcely equalled the obstinacy of this wanton discord, which invaded the peace of families, divided friends and brothers, and tempted the female sex, though seldom seen in the circus, to espouse the inclinations of their lovers, or to contradict the wishes of their husbands. Every law, either human or divine, was trampled under foot, and as long as the party was successful, its deluded followers appeared careless of private distress or public calamity”

  11. Zoltar June 26, 2022 at 2:40 pm #

    Highly worthwhile. Thanks to you both.

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