Even mega-states are typically founded by a small nucleus of pioneers, visionaries, and activists. The United States is a relatively recent example. The character of the collective of Founding Fathers has a profound effect on the nature of the polity that they create: nations spawned by warriors tend to be belligerent and to nurture and cherish military might throughout their history (e.g., Rome); When traders and businessman establish a country, it is likely to cultivate capitalistic values and thrive on commerce and shipping (e.g., Netherlands); The denizens of countries formed by lawyers are likely to be litigious.
The influence of the Founding Fathers does not wane with time. On the very contrary: the mold that they have forged for their successors tends to rigidify and be sanctified. It is buttressed by an appropriate ethos, code of conduct, and set of values. Subsequent and massive waves of immigrants conform with these norms and adapt themselves to local traditions, lores, and mores.
Back to the United States:
Thinkers and scholars as diverse as Christopher Lasch in “The Cultural Narcissist” and Theodore Millon in “Personality Disorders of Everyday Life” have singled out the United States as the quintessential narcissistic society.
The “American Dream” in itself is benign. It involves materialistic self-realization, the belief in the ideal of equal opportunities and equal access to the system, and in just rewards for hard work, merit, and natural gifts. But the Dream has been rendered nightmarish by the confluence with America’s narcissistic traits.
America’s internal ethos is universally-accepted by all Americans. It incorporates the American Dream and the conviction that America stands for everything that is good and right. Consequently, as the reification of goodness, the United States is in constant battle with evil and its ever-changing demonic emissaries – from Hitler to Saddam Hussein.
There is no national consensus about America’s external ethos. Some Americans are isolationists, others interventionists. Both groups are hypervigilant, paranoid, and self-righteous – but isolationists are introverted and schizoid. Theirs is siege mentality. Interventionists are missionary. They feel omnipotent and invincible. They are extroverted and psychopathic.
This pathology can be traced back and attributed to a confluence of historical events and processes, the equivalents of trauma and abuse in an individual’s early childhood.
The United States of America started out as a series of loosely connected, remote, savage, and negligible colonial outposts. The denizens of these settlements were former victims of religious persecution, indentured servants, lapsed nobility, and other refugees. Their Declaration of Independence reads like a maudlin list of grievances coupled with desperate protestations of love and loyalty to their abuser, the King of Britain.
The inhabitants of the colonies defended against their perceived helplessness and very real inferiority with compensatory, imagined, and feigned superiority and fantasies of omnipotence. Victims frequently internalize their abusers and themselves become bullies. Hence the rough, immutable kernel of American narcissism.
The United States was (until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s) and still is, in some important respects, a pre-Enlightenment, white supremacist society. It is rife with superstition, prejudice, conspicuous religiosity, intolerance, philistinism, and lack of social solidarity. Its religiosity is overt, aggressive, virulent and ubiquitous. It is replete with an eschatology, which involves a changing cast of demonized “enemies”, both political and cultural.
The Civil War was fought between 2 America’s: the South, a perverted rendition of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the North, a harbinger of modern, multicultural immigrant societies. The North and the American Dream prevailed, the slaves were freed, and the Southern way of life, that of “gentlemen with leisure”, was replaced by a workaholic society where everyone is a slave to money and leisure is an ever rarer commodity.
Americans’ religion is a manifestation of their “Chosen People Syndrome”. They are missionary, messianic, zealous, fanatical, and nauseatingly self-righteous, bigoted, and hypocritical. This is especially discernible in the double-speak and double-standard that underlies American foreign policy.
American altruism is misanthropic and compulsive. They often give merely in order to control, manipulate, and sadistically humiliate the recipients.
Narcissism is frequently comorbid with paranoia. Americans cultivate and nurture a siege mentality which leads to violent acting out and unbridled jingoism. Their persecutory delusions sit well with their adherence to social Darwinism (natural selection of the fittest, let the weaker fall by the wayside, might is right, etc.).
Consequently, the United States always finds itself in company with the least palatable regimes in the world: together with Nazi Germany it had a working eugenics program (the 1935 anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws and the Nazi sterilization law were modeled after American anti-miscegenation and sterilization statutes), together with the likes of Saudi Arabia it executes its prisoners, it was the last developed nation to abolish slavery, alone with South Africa it had instituted official apartheid in a vast swathe of its territory.
Add to this volatile mix an ethos of malignant individualism, racism both latent and overt, a trampling, “no holds barred” ambitiousness, competitiveness, frontier violence-based morality, and proud simple-mindedness – and an ominous portrait of the United States as a deeply disturbed polity emerges.
Filed under: World in Conflict and Transition | Tagged: democracy, dictators, dictatorship, elections, ethnic, ideology, minorities, nation, parliament, political parties, politicians, politics, secession, sovereignty, state, tyranny |