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Narcissism In Climate & Woke Victim Movements

Psychologist Sam Vaknin on why we need a politics of overcoming, not victimhood


“We have transitioned from the age of dignity to the age of victimhood,” argues Israeli psychologist and narcissism expert, Sam Vaknin. “Every single political and social movement nowadays has converted itself into a victimhood movement. Many ideologies, which were not victimhood-oriented, have become victimhood-oriented.”

Such is the case with the climate change movement. “This is all wrong,” said Greta Thunberg at the United Nations. “I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us, young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

It wasn’t always this way. “In the past, victimhood movements, for example, the civil rights movements in the United States, were not narcissistic,” Vaknin argues. “They were actually goal-oriented, purpose-oriented. Today most victimhood movements are about grandiosity.”

You can probably tell why Vaknin’s warning resonates with me. I have changed my mind about many issues over the last two decades. But for nearly 20 years I have warned that victimhood movements are disempowering, toxic, and dangerous. My essay last year, “Why I am not a progressive,” explained why the Left’s orientation toward victimhood led me to reject that label.

Michael Shellenberger
Why I Am Not A Progressive
For all of my adult life I have identified as a progressive. To me, being a progressive meant that I believed in empowerment. In 2002, when I co-founded a labor-environmental coalition to advocate for renewable energy, the symbol we chose to represent us was of Rosie the Riveter, an image of a woman factory worker during World War II flexing her muscle beneath the words, “We Can Do It!”. When President Barack Obama ran for office in 2008, it seemed fitting to me that he chose the slogan, “Yes we can…
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Vaknin agrees. “This is an exceedingly dangerous phenomenon because narcissism is about a lack of empathy. It's about entitlement. And it’s exploitative. ‘I'm a victim, so I'm a saint. I'm morally superior to you. I have a right because I have a grievance. I'm entitled. You have an obligation towards me.’”


Sam Vaknin on the danger of victimhood movements - transcript

The full video is for paid subscribers

Michael Shellenberger