And when you boil it all down and break it all down, the reason why Barack Obama could not do what Bernie Sanders did – namely, to do the right thing and not partake in a whole-of-government policy that violated international law – was because if Barack Obama did what Bernie Sanders did, then he would not be able to take narcissistic selfies with a blonde at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. For some people, living a humble and dignified life like everyone else is not enough, given their extreme narcissistic tendencies. As Jerrold Post wrote: “In surveying contemporary politics, one cannot help but be impressed with the ubiquity of narcissism in political life…it is perhaps not too much of an exaggeration to say that if one were to strip from the ranks of political leaders those with significant narcissistic personality traits, the ranks would be perilously impoverished.”
In turn, narcissism is entirely libidinal in nature, and it is the libidinal condition and state which is in need of transformation. As Sigmund Freud wrote: “It is hard to say anything of the behavior of the libido in the id and in the super-ego. All that we know about it relates to the ego, in which at first the whole available quota of libido is stored up. We call this state absolute, primary narcissism.” Freud added:
“[Narcissism] lasts till the ego begins to cathect the ideas of objects with libido, to transform narcissistic libido into object-libido. Throughout the whole of life the ego remains the great reservoir from which libidinal cathexes are sent out to objects and into which they are also once more withdrawn, just as an amoeba behaves with its pseudopodia. It is only when a person is completely in love that the main quota of libido is transferred on to the object and the object to some extent takes the place of the ego.”
In short, the libido has to exercise mobility so that it can overcome its fixation with the self and in turn place itself onto a love-object so that it can overcome its narcissism. Freud made a very basic distinction and differentiation between two sets of human instincts, namely, the ‘ego-instincts’ on one hand and the ‘sexual instincts’ on the other hand. The former is repressive, whereas the latter seeks freedom from repression. And it is the repression of the ‘sexual instincts’ which in turn leads to anxiety and neurosis among other things. The sexual instincts often “come into a dispute” or even “conflict” with the “self-preservative” instincts of the ego given that the sexual instincts had to be tamed for the sake of self-preservation and survival. As a result, neurosis has long been the cost that has had to be incurred on the part of certain groups and races for the sake of self-preservation and survival.
Freud also wrote: “We thus slowly became familiar with the notion that the libido, which we find attached to objects and which is the expression of an effort to obtain satisfaction in connection with those objects, can also leave the objects and set the subject’s own ego in their place; and this notion was gradually built up more and more consistently.” This allocation of the libido is known as narcissism. Freud added: “Reflection will quickly suggest that if any such fixation of the libido to the subject’s own body and personality instead of to an object does occur, it cannot be an exceptional or a trivial event. On the contrary it is probable that this narcissism is the universal and original state of things, from which object-love is only later developed, without the narcissism necessarily disappearing on that account.”
Hence, the libidinal transition or transformation from a universal narcissism to object-love amounts largely to an education process which only few can undertake, given that the narcissistic condition and state is perhaps universal. Moreover, the universality as well as the scale and scope of narcissism is made evident by the internet and social media as well as by other political and social phenomena of our day and age.