Posts Tagged 'sociopaths'

Midnight in the Land of Fear and Greed

In his 1896, “The Law Of Civilization And Decay,” Brooks Adams states: “Thought is one of the manifestations of human energy, and among the earlier and simpler phases of thought, two stand conspicuous – Fear and Greed. Fear, which, by stimulating the imagination, creates a belief in an invisible world, and ultimately develops a priesthood: and Greed which dissipates energy in war and trade.”  I wonder what Adams’ take would have been on today’s United States, driven by both fear and greed.

Scores of Americans are willing, out of Fear, to surrender freedom for the illusion of safety. Greed manifests in the relentless pursuit of profit by corporations, bankers and individuals through tax-evasion strategies and manipulation enabled by legislators gifted with PAC “donations.” The population dominating the economy promotes deregulation and tax relief for themselves, claiming “trickle-down” economics, which Kenneth Galbraith once characterized as allowing a horse to gorge on oats such that something will go through for the sparrows.

Corporations like Apple Computer utilize cleverly rationalized off-shore tax dodges, squirreling millions out of reach of the American tax system, thus withdrawing the energy represented by that money from the very society from which they derive their profits. The end result of this behavior is that the burden of taxes falls on an ever-diminished middle-class struggling to keep its head above water. Unless people believe in the fairness of the social contract as they live it on a daily basis it will be undermined.

The “priesthood” of the CIA, NSA, FBI, FISA, and IRS cite an “invisible world” they can’t tell us about but which they are a part of. Sounds like a religion, doesn’t it? Tapping your phones, reading, recording and storing your private e-mails and internet searches, photographing your mail, recording your book purchases, making “unintentional mistakes,” and storing all of this indefinitely without your knowledge or your permission, they are making you “safe” in the land of the free and the home of the brave. According to the Washington Post, “The chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said the court lacks the tools to independently verify how often the government’s surveillance breaks the court’s rules that aim to protect Americans’ privacy.” We have descended into the same domestic spying we condemn elsewhere.

From the moment the first buckled shoe set foot on this continent, the United States has been a racist, classist, religiously bigoted  country dominated by business interests. Could it ever be different? This is a Darwinian world, and so long as there is a “getting ahead” or “having more” there will be people stepping on others to get their “more.” For their part, the polity would rather blame others – however characterized by disability, poverty, skin color, birthplace, intellect, or any quality that distinguishes them as “other” – instead of their own unwillingness to shoulder responsibility for social and economic equality, and they are encouraged in this behavior by the insatiable 1% and their puppet politicians.

What will our country look like if the sociopaths succeed? Will we be back to soup kitchens? People languishing in the streets and gutters? Will our world resemble the Middle Ages? Will there be rampant disease and lack of sufficient food, cleanliness, and health care? Is this the vision the oligarchs financing the assaults on social services, schools, and society in general have in mind?

Because, in Ronald Wright’s words, “… all civilizations become hierarchical; the upward concentration of wealth ensures there can never be enough to go around,” all civilizations throughout history have ascended and declined, evolved and devolved through a process of similar dynamics. This is not a new idea. Polybius, a 2nd-century BC Greek historian, noted the cycle of states as being growth, maturity and decay. This “rule” applied to sophisticated and primitive societies alike, especially those that invested heavily in their militaries and engaged in endless warfare, the Roman Empire being a good example.

The list of failed societies is long and extends to the furthest reaches of human history, and destructive energies of Fear and Greed drove those ancient societies to their collapse. They were, to paraphrase Shelley, the greatest nations that ever were. Beyond the boast, their greatness, subject to the resources of their commons, ultimately served them no further purpose; the wages of hubris.

Civilization is a recent development, something on the order of a mere six thousand years or so, consequently civilization remains, by any measure, an experiment. As with all experiments, there are no right or wrong answers—only results. The United States’ experiment is clearly at a crossroads in its history, the outcome of which is uncertain only to the extent of our collective ability to conquer fear and greed, to imagine, create, and maintain a just society. No small task.

 

ON PARASITOIDS

The word parasite comes from the Greek  παράσιτος (parasitos), “one who eats at the table of another”. The Juniper parasite commonly known as Mistletoe Latin name is Phoradendron Juniperinum ,. There are many different kinds of parasites that infect animals and plants and this one is of the kind that eventually kills its host. Parasitoid is the name for parasites which kill or sterilize their hosts. As I was working at the heartbreaking task of pruning – butchering might be more apt – nearly all of the cedars and junipers at home infected with Mistletoe the similarity between what is happening to my trees and my country struck me. Parasitoids are eating away democracy, the economy, and polity – in short, the social contract as I have known it for all of my life and in the end they will kill the host and replace it with something like a police state.

What is most interesting about this is that the parasites are being assisted by the very people who are being hurt the most – the American middle class. Which leads me to the next interesting aspect that being the denial of class warfare. What do you imagine are the consequences when millionaire elected politicians write laws from “model legislation” provided to them by an organization funded by the largest corporations in the world? Is that not class warfare? The ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Counsel) is the unelected sponsor of a great deal of legislation from concealed carry of handguns to education and a universe in between. Whose interests are being represented first and foremost? Yours or theirs? Who did the public elect, ALEC or senator so-and-so? The role of legislators as minions of parasitoids is undeniable when they allow themselves to used as conduits for sociopathic legislation provided to them by ALEC. The legislation introduced and passed is not for the benefit of the electorate but solely for the benefit of the sponsors at the expense of the polity. In other words, they are dining at the expense of the public good – literally and figuratively.

A good example of how devolved the situation has become is the disagreement over health care. Early in the Republican primary during a debate about government sponsored health care an example of how a sick person without health insurance could be denied hospital care and die as a result, the audience cheered. Yes, that actually happened at a Republican presidential debate in September of last year. Ron Paul was asked by the moderator whether or not a person should be left to die if he didn’t have health insurance.  Paul ducked the question but responded that freedom means “taking your own risks”. And the audience cheered, “Yeah!”. Not unlike the Roman custom of thumbs down during a gladiatorial bout the audience thus indicating the vanquished opponent should be killed. Even Friedrich Hayek ultra-conservative intellectual icon knew better and supported “ a comprehensive system of social insurance”.

Concealed carry laws such as that which led to the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida come directly out of the ALEC menu of “model legislation” the Florida language being nearly identical to the ALEC template. There is hardly a day that goes by without another shooting reported somewhere in the country. Today, April 2, six people were shot and killed and three wounded at a California university. Last night a shooting in Las Cruces left one young man dead and another seriously wounded. Time and again people, innocent people, are shot down by someone exercising the right to own and carry a gun. ALEC templates provide the language and intent of the enabling legislation for gun laws sponsored by the Koch boys, Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, At&T, UPS, Kraft Foods, State Farm, Bayer, Diageo, NRA, et al  – it’s a long long list.

Another example is the price of gasoline. It is generally known there is an international glut of petroleum the feed stock of gasoline and there is also a national reserve from which the president can draw if need be. The price of what has become life-blood of the American economy is controlled by a small group of multi-national corporations all of whom want to see a Republican outcome in the November elections; they are willing, it seems, to destroy the economy and the economic life of Americans to achieve that end.

The life blood of democracy is being sucked out of it for profit and in the end will destroy the American social contract just as the mistletoe is destroying my trees. Another  ALEC campaign, this to destroy public education for the purpose of privatizing it, will lead to under and un-educated citizens unable to think critically thus making them even more vulnerable to manipulation and with little or no commitment to a social contract – in other words they are creating a dystopian state at our expense. Already by age 23 as many as 41 percent of American young adults and adolescents have been arrested at least once. Will we, of necessity, live in a police state in what was once the land of the free and the home of the brave? How far will ALEC its sponsors and minions be willing to go in their parasitoid crusade against American democracy?

This essay was forst posted on: http://www.thelightofnewmexico.com/


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