How many times a day do you kiss ass? Probably more than you might want to admit. We kiss ass when we believe that someone has something that will enhance our power in life. There is a trade-off. By kissing ass, we diminish our power to make the one whose ass we kiss feel more powerful. If you are diminished I am stronger – and vica versa.
Ass kissing can take many forms. Disciples can kiss the ass of their guru, employees the ass of their manager, people in relationships, can indulge in ass kissing, students kiss teacher ass – and so on. A real relationship does not involve ass-kissing. A real disciple will challenge the guru. I know of a female disciple of Gurdjieff who regularly questioned him – he didn’t object. However the sycophants hanging around him did mind, and for one it just got too much. A small incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and he suddenly screamed “You fucking bitch.” The lady in question found it hilarious. The man who yelled is a well-known figure in the Gurdjieff tradition.
As far as students kissing their teacher’s or lecturer’s ass is concerned – it works. I know a lecturer very well, and she tells me that ass kissing as examinations or assessments approach is a sound strategy.
Personal relationships nearly always involve some level of ass-kissing, since many relationships are built on mutual ego stroking. “Oh, you are so clever.” “You look a million dollars.” It doesn’t work in the long term since egos are insatiable and no amount of stroking is enough. Some relationships go beyond the ass kissing, but many do not. New relationships are needed to keep the ego stroking alive. It is also the case that many long-term relationships are secured by one party being the ass kisser and the other being the venom spitter. Neither party will indulge in this behavior unless they feel they are getting something out of it. I’ve known many ass kissers who tolerate the abuse of a venom spitter because they think the latter lends them some power (the venom spitter is wealthy, is vain or believes they are superior to everyone else and has convinced the ass kisser that this is the case).
The other side of the coin is venom spitting. Remember – when someone else is weaker, you are stronger. So we see groups of people, and individuals, stigmatizing other groups or individuals to make them weaker, and as a consequence, the oppressors feel stronger. History is awash with examples of this – religious, ideological and ethnic persecution.
More insidious however is the day-in and day-out ass kissing and venom spitting performed by Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary. Having successfully transferred the blame for poverty and other hardships on the unemployed, the British government then turned its attention to immigrants. After successfully convincing a large portion of the population that immigrants were taking jobs and consuming public services, to everyone else’ detriment, a referendum was held on whether to leave the European Union. Most people voted to leave – particularly the old and embittered. They needed a scapegoat for their misery, and immigrants were as good as anything else. So the immigrants feel diminished, and the majority of the population feels empowered – such is human nature. The United States government and many others also seem to be pursuing this strategy – and it works.
The vast majority of people, organizations, and groups indulge in ass kissing and venom spitting – and it will never change. The brutish survival instinct that drives all creatures demands this kind of behavior.
I was prompted to write this article when I accidentally came across an online photograph of a Nazi officer executing an emaciated Jew with his pistol. Venom spitting at its most extreme.