We are, it seems, being strangled as a heterogeneous society by a rope tugged upon by the political and corporate elites of our day and made stronger by an academic and scientific establishment, who fashion the vise-like threads that bind us. Whether these nooses around our collective necks are made of steel cables as they are in fascist states or velvet ropes as they are in so-called democratic ones- it makes little difference in the long run given the restrictive lack of latitude of thought and action either way.
After all, what earthly good is it to think and envision more utopian modes of living in the US when we are under the iron rule of bureaucratic governments, who along with the economic necessities imposed by the monied cartels of banks and everyday finance enslave all to a life of wage slavery or neo-feudalism? Such is the implicit law of the urban jungle, where the fattest cats live and prosper by devouring the weaker and smaller prey beneath them in a fierce competition for finite resources. That over half the world’s population lives in abject poverty working 16 hour days very often to support the voracious appetite of the comparatively wealthy few is considered “just the way things are”, as if to say that this kind of life is not only fair but normal.
One could make a very convincing argument that “psychopathy”, which is the mental disorder whereby one has an inability to feel empathy or compassion for other people, is becoming somewhat enshrined as a value in today’s society. After all, we are taught from a very early age in fact that violence is the way to solve your problems, that the poor deserve to have nothing, that compassion is a sign of weakness, that indifference to the suffering of others is “normal”, that winning at all costs by being the most aggressive and vicious competitor in sports, jobs, dating, and life, in general, is the only way to succeed and thrive. Hollywood movies, TV shows, internet chat groups, video games, etc. all promote this kind of dog-eat-dog world, where “only the strong” survive. This isn’t to say that a certain amount of friendly competition isn’t good and healthy in games and life, but only to suggest that constantly stressing this reptilian-brain “fight or flight” mode of Darwinian existence all the time when most of the necessities for survival (at least in places like the US) have been met is not only unnecessarily stressful, it’s downright stupid and counterproductive.
Clearly, Western corporate and financial elites see little to concern themselves with this state of global affairs. The only real disputes are centered around which countries, or rather powerful elites, get the lion-share of the spoils from various wars waged against countries with rich resources to exploit, ideologies to suppress, or indigenous peoples to slaughter. This, after all, is the business of the “march of progress” made up of mostly light-skinned people against the darker races of people, and to question the foundation tenets upon which this system operates is tantamount to heresy in this civilization. It isn’t merely racism, sexism, and religious bigotry that fuels this kind of world, however, but rather these xenophobic tendencies spring from an ingrained and indoctrinated psychopathology that runs counter to our ingrained sense of “fair play” and conscience later on in life.
Children, for instance, are taught to hate..they don’t come out of the womb like that. Look at children before the age of around 5 or 6, and you’ll still be able to see the wonderment, the joy, and compassion in their eyes. Now, look at those same kids 10 years later, and it will almost certainly be completely gone…replaced usually with a look of resentment, anger, and cynicism. Where did their joy and love of life go? While the innocence of youth is usually thought of a naivety and ignorant folly in today’s neurotic society, adulthood isn’t meant to be equated with intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and psychopathy. Quite the contrary. The ego-centrism of childhood is supposed to give way to more altruistic and compassionate feelings in later adulthood, as it did for the native Americans (for instance) before the missionaries taught them shame and guilt.
Now, parents and religious strictures teach shame and guilt to children about their “dirty” bodies, about the “sinful” nature of sexuality, about their opinions, etc. Parents, claiming to love their children, are taught to beat their children…so they do. This in turn creates a dichotomy of emotions within their children, who rely of mommy’s love on the one hand and fear her wrath on the other.Daddy’s wrath is, if anything, even greater and more bewildering, since it is often slow to build and irrationally unleashed with brutal consequences later in life. This doesn’t even touch on the obvious forms of child abuse that include things like torture, abandonment, and sexual abuse. However, I suspect that it is a lot more common than we have any inkling of in our “Hear No Evil, See No Evil” way of life.
Naturally, parents have been conditioned by their culture to “civilize” their children…that is to say “tame” them by making them behave a certain way that society thinks necessary for them to join the ranks of the walking wage slave dead. So, they follow the will of society’s expectations and punish little Billy for talking too loud, for getting dirty in the yard, for playing when he’s supposed to study, for not paying attention, for being rowdy and rambunctious, for saying a swear word he probably heard from dad, for jumping on the bed, for breaking a glass, for laughing about something that’s crude, for playing with his wee-wee, for not coming immediately when called to, for not keeping still at the dinner table, for belching, for acting too spontaneously, for being silly, etc.
Of course, these actions (in and of themselves) are merely the expressions of a child’s spontaneous actions, which imply no malice or evil whatsoever. However, they run counter to society’s expectations and hence parental expectations. So, they are yelled and beaten out of them. Later on, when the child becomes an adolescent, little of their true self remains intact, and their fragmented selves are fraught with neurosis, resentment, and occasionally psychosis. But, this is “normal”, right? If they continue to express themselves against societal norms, they are usually put a regimen of psychoactive drugs such as Ritalin, Prozac, Zoloft, or some other Class II pharmaceutical medication in order to modify his unruly behavior and get him to obey his/her authority figures, who know what’s best. And, if that still doesn’t work to brow-beat him/her into submission- they’re usually locked up in some psychiatric prison or sent to some penitentiary somewhere. And, yet hardly anyone questions this form of child rearing in our supposedly enlightened society, a society that is getting progressively more psychotic mind you.
And yet, question it I must as a matter of conscience and philosophic integrity as a human being. Is not there a common humanity among us? Should not we find that shared ethic as sentient creatures of a common ancestry, if not in biology at least in spirit? The civilized countries would claim they are sophisticated and benevolent in bringing their supreme culture, religions, educational institutions, medicine, and technology to the barbarous heathen native peoples, who live like ignorant savages. That is what we are taught about them, at least, and it is as much a part of our popular imagination as our own smug sense of superiority. And yet, native peoples didn’t have prisons, psychiatric wards, juvenile delinquency, drug addiction, rashes of teenage suicides, mental breakdowns, etc. that so-called “civilized” nations do, especially the US that leads the world in prisoners by far. Our solution, therefore, to problems is to make war on them…”The War on Drugs”, “The War on Terror”, “The War on Poverty”. Did we ever stop to think that perhaps it is our collective propensity to “make war” that might be one of our problems in the first place?
Naturally, it never occurs to us that our monotheistic religions are just as superstitious and certainly more pathologically hypocritical in their blood lust practiced by men claiming virtuous divine authority. Nor are we conscious of indigenous peoples’ ability to heal themselves quite readily and effectively using plants, herbs, and natural remedies devoid of the often debilitating emotional and physical side-effects that allopathic Western medicine has on man, including some 100,000 deaths per year from the recommended dosage of prescription drugs.
Our culture is driven to incessantly chase money, materialism, status, and amusements of every sort, and its inherent artificiality and hollowness of substance along with the rapidity with which it’s being foisted on us is killing us (death by a million cuts as it were). Most people at least feel that things aren’t right with us, some have even taken steps to remedy their own lives, but very few have understood what we can do to cure the greater societal ills and collective psychosis, since it is much larger and pervasive than one individual. This isn’t to say that people are homogenous..far from it. Everyone brings their own individual personalities, experiences, and enculturation to bear upon their unique circumstances in life. Clearly, some are more adaptive and versatile than others just as some are more rigid and ignorant.
However, I am interested in how homogenous environments affect different people to the extent that certain trends and patterns can be perceived and determined to exist within society. That is to say- “To the extent that our environmental context remains very similar, if not the same, and our conscious perception relatively the same given our biology and cognitive function, how does our civilized and by now highly artificial environment affect us on an emotional, physical, and psychic level?” Can we look dispassionately and detached enough from our own cultural conditioning to even begin to make an informed and observant diagnosis of homo-civilus’ pathology? Or, are we doomed to look at such a question through the collective hypnosis that this term implies?
While I am in no way free completely from the totality of my culture’s insipid programming (who is?), I often find myself radically questioning the pillars of Western civilization with a zeal and fierceness that I rarely hear reflected in others. Perhaps others are much more critical in private, but unless we openly and quite publicly question, challenge, and even rebel against these implicit assumptions of civilization- we won’t advance and evolve beyond what I see are the major obstacles to human consciousness and liberation.