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Good Times, Bad Times 3: The USA and the Hysteroidal Cycle
Fri, 18 Jan 2008 16:11 EST
We have looked at the cycle of good times and bad times that affects nations and countries, known as the Hysteroidal Cycle. The cycle gets its name from the similarities between the psychological state known as hysteria that affects individuals and the psychological state of a society during the course of the hysteroidal cycle.
You have probably noticed that certain aspects of American society are becoming more and more hysterical. One of the most noticeable is the overreaction of police, using extreme measures for very ordinary incidents. Some of the following come to mind:
- A woman from Iceland on a shopping trip to New York City is arrested and humiliated for a visa violation in 1995.
- A man in a pizza place in Boston gets the SWAT team called in on him because he looked "jittery". Turns out he was executive director of Geneva-based U.N. Watch, Hillel Neuer.
- Drivers are being tasered for taking too long to get out of their cars when stopped for traffic violations. One man was recently killed by a taser in Minnesota.
- But that hasn't stopped people from having taser parties and they can now get a holster that doubles as a mp3 player.
- A mother was shot and killed in her own home as she held her one year old child in her arms.
To a normal individual, that is, one who has not been infected by a pathology, any of these stories should provoke outrage. Unfortunately, they are often met with attempts at justification. All of them together are part of a horrifying trend towards ever greater and more open police brutality and use of extreme force, that is, force uncalled for by the situation. The trouble is, when police forces get the new "security" toys, they want to use them. And if someone dies after being tasered, it isn't the product's fault, because how could the police have known about the heart condition....
These events mirror the same hysteria we see in US foreign policy. Remember when French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin spoke out against the invasion of Iraq at the UN in 2003? Immediately everything French was ridiculed. French fries were renamed "Freedom Fries", and French wine was poured into the rivers. The French people were labeled "surrender monkeys". Such behavior is childish to the extreme, and yet it passed for a serious form of political expression among senators and congressmen and sycophantic talking heads on the television.
The fact that it was childish and ridiculous didn't matter. It was effective.
This behavior fits in to the hysteroidal cycle.
Let us look more closely at where the United States fits on this cycle. Andrew Łobaczewski wrote over twenty years ago:
[...] America, especially the U.S.A., has reached a nadir for the first time in its short history. Grey-haired Europeans living in the U.S. today [1984-ed.] are struck by the similarity between these phenomena and the ones dominating Europe at the times of their youth. The emotionalism dominating individual, collective and political life, as well as the subconscious selection and substitution of data in reasoning, are impoverishing the development of a psychological world view and leading to individual and national egotism. The mania for taking offense at the drop of a hat provokes constant retaliation, taking advantage of hyper-irritability and hypo-criticality on the part of others. This can be considered analogous to the European dueling mania of those times.
Think again of the media reaction to the French prior to the invasion, the illegal invasion, of Iraq. Can the reader step outside of the emotionally induced traumatism delivered at the time of 9/11and recognize the absurdity of these actions? What kind of a thinking process, if it can be called 'thought' at all, could result in such ridiculous notions taking hold? Might we suggest that such reactions are part of an "individual and national egotism"?
Łobaczewski points to the mechanism leading to this egotism: "emotionalism" and "the subconscious selection and substitution of data in reasoning". In other words, Americans are being whipped up into a form of hysteria by the media to a state where they are incapable of thinking clearly. Their emotions are so strong that they cling to what they wish to believe is true rather than accepting what is. We saw in an earlier article in this series that it is one of the traits of the psychopath to think that reality is whatever he or she declares it to be. What Łobaczewski is saying is that the psychopathic view of the world is being accepted by normal people, people who under different circumstance wouldn't think that way at all. Let's look at this in more detail.
The first step, emotionalism, should be clear. I am certain you can think of incidents in your own life, either at work, with friends, or at home in the family, where you were unable to think rationally for a period of time because you were too emotionally charged. The same effect holds true in the body politic.
The media whip up, yet again, emotions against the victim of the week, such as the French prior to the war in Iraq. The talking heads made jokes about WW2 and how French "surrender monkeys" were overrun so quickly by the Nazis. They arrogantly preened and strutted while insisting that without American help, France would still be under Nazi rule.
The point is, however, that the French were absolutely correct about the disaster that would become the invasion of Iraq. The French were thinking rationally. They were seeing the world as it was. There was no proof that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, just as today there is no proof whatsoever that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. The French were correct, and US leaders knew that the French were correct, and so they had to be attacked for other reasons, reasons that had nothing to do with the issue at hand. The French were probably also aware that the reasons given by Bush for the invasion were not the real reasons. It had nothing to do with freeing the Iraqis and everything to do with dismembering a country that Israel has long considered a threat. The real reason for going into Iraq was to split the country up into Kurdish, Sunni, and Shi'ite territories that would fight amongst themselves rather than stand united against Israel aggression in the area.
The phoney "terrorist" attack on 9/11 was another such emotional manipulation. The neocons in Washington along with their cohorts in Tel Aviv brought down the twin towers to deliver an emotional shock that permitted the population to be led into the fake "war on terror", the justification for the stripping away of constitutionally guaranteed rights and liberties of American citizens, not to mention the thousand humiliations every time you board a plane.
If the population hadn't been under such emotional stress, it would not have been so easy to do. Give them 9/11 and it was a piece of cake.
Subconscious substitution and selection of data comes in when the reality doesn't meet one's fanciful image of how things should be, so those parts that are too upsetting to one's world view are ignored and "data" supporting the cherished illusion are put in its place. Americans are loathe to imagine or admit that their country is not the freest, most democratic country with the highest standard of living in the world. They are loathe to admit that their leaders and their soldiers have engaged in crimes against humanity. It is too much for many Americans to even consider these ideas as a remote possibility. Their entire self-image would fall apart if they looked without their patriotic blinders at what their government was doing in the world in their name because those acts go against everything they believe the country stands for. They have identified so closely with this vision of America that admitting it is not true would entail some form of psychological breakdown.
Therefore, to prevent this breakdown, they are willing to accept the ludicrous story that there is a small group of crazed terrorists led by Osama bin Laden who hate them for no good reason and are trying to destroy America and the American way of life no matter where it may seek to flourish around the globe. They are willing to believe the decider-in-chief when he says that our rights and freedoms must be curtailed in order to have the tools to fight these savages. They don't fight fair, so neither can we. They use torture, and so must we. They are barbarians, so we must become barbarians to beat them.
But by becoming barbarians, we lose because we become the image of everything we claim we are fighting against. We become a police state, the country where the population is spied upon constantly, where the simple task of boarding a plane becomes an experience of trauma and humiliation, where being stopped by the police for speeding can finish in the spastic throes of "non-lethal" taser electrocution.
Stephen Lendman details the legislative measures that have been undertaken to remove our rights in two recent articles: "Institutionalized Spying on Americans", and "Police State America - A Look Back and Ahead". The list isn't pretty; it is downright frightening.
Let's return to Łobaczewski's analysis of the United States and the hysteroidal cycle:
America's psychological recession [caused by its emotionalism and subconscious selection and substitution of data in reasoning] drags in its wake an impaired socio-professional adaptation of this country's people, leading to a waste of human talent and an involution of societal structure. [...]
A highly talented individual in the USA finds it ever more difficult to fight his way through to self-realization and a socially creative position. Universities, politics, and businesses ever more frequently demonstrate a united front of relatively untalented persons and even incompetent persons. The word "overeducated" is heard more and more often. Such "overqualified" individuals finally hide out in some foundation laboratory where they are allowed to earn the Nobel prize as long as they do not do anything really useful. In the meantime, the country as whole suffers due to a deficit in the inspirational role of highly gifted individuals.
Remember, this was written over twenty years ago. If anything, the situation Łobaczewski describes has only gotten worse. The war on academia has deepened, as witnessed by Norman Finkelstein's rejected tenure application this past summer or the work of David Horowitz to harass liberal academics who question anything having to do with Israel. The image of the Ph.D. holder forced to drive a cab has become a cliché. The point is that the country is squandering the talents of its people. It can not make use of them, and in their place are quislings who put political loyalty before an objective scientific interest in truth.
As a result, America is stifling progress in all areas of life, from culture to technology and economics, not excluding political incompetence. When linked to other deficiencies, an egotist's incapability of understanding other people and nations leads to political error and the scapegoating of outsiders. Slamming the brakes on the evolution of political structures and social institutions increases both administrative inertia and discontent on the part of its victims.
The current 'debate' about immigration is certainly bringing out the "scapegoating of outsiders". This manipulation is perfectly understandable as so many Americans are struggling to pay the rent or the mortgage and feed their kids. It is easy to turn them against immigrants, illegal or otherwise. They want a scapegoat, and the media will give them one. What isn't discussed are the various internal and external reasons behind the influx of immigrants. The exploitation of Latin America over the decades since the end of WWII has led to the horrifying poverty in those countries. If the US had not overthrown the democratically elected governments in Latin America that were improving the lives of their people, if the US hadn't backed repressive military dictatorships or a corrupt single party in the case of Mexico, these people would be living their lives where they were born. They would not wish to leave to find the American Dream.
Yet when Americans themselves are being shut out of the American Dream, it is natural that they become hostile at "foreigners" who come and compete.
The lie is that the American Dream never existed, but we have been told so many times that "anyone could become President" that we accept it at face value. We accept the myth and mumble something about Abe Lincoln and the log cabin. We fall victim to the "subconscious substitution and selection of data" that props up our fairy tale vision of the United States. The horrible truth is that the myth of the American Dream serves to scapegoat the individual for his or her failure and ignores any structural factors. If someone doesn't succeed, it is entirely his or her own fault.
How convenient for those who profit from the system and from the failure of so many people to put the idea of the American Dream into question.
We should realize that the most dramatic social difficulties and tensions occur at least ten years after the first observable indications of having emerged from a psychological crisis. Being a sequel, they also constitute a delayed reaction to the cause or are stimulated by the same psychological activation process. The time span for effective countermeasures is thus rather limited.
Remember that this diagnosis was delivered in the early 1980s. We are now twenty years on in the cycle. If the period for countermeasures is "rather limited", as Łobaczewski suggests, then have we gone too far to be able to enact them?
Łobaczewski suggested that, compared with Europe, the US was behind the curve of the hysteroidal cycle. He suggests that the US is now in the period of the cycle that compares with the period between the two wars in Europe. The first half of this century saw two world wars and the rise of fascist and communist authoritarian regimes. Today in the United States, we see the rise of a 21st century fascism with a distinctly American face. Obviously it doesn't look exactly like Hitler's Germany or Mussolini's Italy. Unfortunately, Mussolini's description of fascism as the merger of the corporations and the state is certainly a very accurate description of the situation in the US today. Not only does the US government follow the dictates of the corporate donors to their election funds and the lobbyists on Capital Hill, the government itself is being privatized and given away to those corporations. Look at the role of mercenaries in the Iraq war or in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In the few short years of the Bush regime, an entire industry of security specialists under the guise of 'Homeland Security' has arisen to feed at the teat of public funding. The Constitution has been thrown aside. According to the president, it is only a piece of paper.
The one right and responsibility left to the American people is the right to shop, although even that is becoming more of a responsibility. You must go into debt to defend America.
And when the inevitable happens, when the house of cards, the illusion comes crashing down, you will be holding an empty sack. If the news from the first two weeks of the new year is any indication, the meltdown has already started. As we saw in the last article, you are being set up to be reprogrammed. You are being brainwashed. And the means they are using on you have been tested and perfected in Chile, in Brazil, in Iraq, in Palestine, anywhere the methods of shock and awe have been imposed upon the population. The crisis is being used to push you over the edge so that you will accept an overtly authoritarian leader, one who promises to restore law and order if only you make a few more necessary sacrifices....
These are the bad times, but as we have seen, they can also be a time when people are pushed by circumstances to look reality in the face and let fall the illusions that have kept them bound. People learn that the subconscious selection and substitution of data only makes things worse, and they become hungry for the truth. The truth that strikes home the most clearly, that throws the brightest light on the chasm between words and deeds, between our wishful thinking and the reality staring us in the face, is knowledge of psychological deviance. It is that knowledge that people seek out during bad times. We'll look at that in more detail next.