I, like many Americans, spend much of my psychic energy every day trying to keep the top of my head from blowing off. This happens when a person is placed in a psychological pressure cooker of one kind of another. In my case the present pressure cooker, primarily, is the near impossibility of seeing a recommended doctor to treat my serious kidney disease– an eventually life-threatening difficulty I’ve been stuck in for two months now as unknown damage may or may not be occurring in a vital organ/organs.
Solving this vexing health problem would only relieve so much stress, of course. I would still face the many frustrations of living in a competitive pressure-cooker of a society where people are pitted against each other in a zero sum war, while ugly partisan battles rage daily and the earth itself is becoming uninhabitable due to the incomprehensible greed of a few already immensely wealthy people. We watch problems that should be intelligently discussed and solved go unaddressed, except for the televised bickering of well-dressed two year-olds spouting talking points, talking past each other to score meaningless points with those who support them, year after year.
The result of enforced powerlessness is resignation and rage. These things sound at first like opposite reactions, but they are not mutually exclusive, they are two sides of a coin. You feel hopeless and resigned, you brood about why you are in the situation you are in and you feel rage. Your rage leaves you hopeless again, but it is building in the background for the next wave. The rage and hatred at least provide a surge of energy, a phantom feeling of some kind of power.
In my case, I find myself hating frequently deadly American Corporate Health Care and the culture of personal greed that justifies countless preventable deaths as an acceptable cost of doing supremely profitable business. When corporate medical providers and corporate insurance companies blame each other for the medical predicament I find myself in, I turn my hatred to the corporate “person”. I understand that this legally created person is a psychopath, it exhibits every one of the DSM’s characteristics of the psychopath. Callous unconcern for the feelings of others, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness, repeated lying and conniving against others for profit, incapacity to experience guilt, etc.
I can defend my hatred with countless examples. It doesn’t help me solve the immediate problem, avoiding death by American health care, but critically analyzing the faceless entity that is nonchalantly and impersonally trying to kill me offers momentary relief from the feeling of being sodomized. The confirmation bias comes into play. Every time I see another example of corporate psychopathy, and there are many, I am confirmed in my view that the practices of these poisonous institutions should be tightly regulated instead of corporations being the omnipotent rulers of the “Free Market” that is the democratic world order. I dismiss ads by Koch Industries that tout the wonderful, creative, life-sustaining, people-friendly company they are as the work of an amoral public relations agency making a shit load of money putting a good face on the hell-bent moral equivalents of Nazis.
Here’s the larger point, though:
We live in the stubbornly gridlocked political dysfunction of a divided nation of self-interested partisans, bigots and haters of bigots, barking past each other, each side howling catch phrases to its base. This hideous farce is currently presided over by the personification of unearned privilege and the idiocy that is marketed to Americans as success. This “winner” was born rich, sought endless attention, finally attained it as an abrasive, wildly popular ‘reality-TV star’, and, through an aggressive, divisive campaign narrowly won the Electoral College (designed to protect slavery from the whims of the democratic voters) and took on his dream role of the most powerful man in the world. His presidency is a symptom of the miasma of rage most Americans live in.
Everything I have said above about my hatred of the corporation can be said, in one form or another, by anyone who hates. We do not believe anything without being able to justify it 100%. As I can make my case against corporate psychopaths, someone who hates immigrants can make their case, someone who hates Muslims, or Jews, Blacks or homosexuals can make a case as tight as a noose. The analysis may not be as convincing in each case, but a case is made and an undying belief confirmed.
Trump appealed to the rage that millions and millions of white Americans feel, having been told over and over they are “privileged,” as they watch brown and yellow people, many who don’t even speak English, pushy women, transsexuals, foreign-born secret Muslim presidents, etc, moving ahead and “winning” while they are not, and worse, as they lose they are being held guilty for wrongs done long ago, wrongs they had nothing, personally, to do with. It’s not hard to understand why many white people would be angry, watching the American Dream slipping away from them.
It’s hard to dispute that most Americans are worse off than we were a generation or two ago. Certainly in terms of hope for a better life for the next generation. Adjusting to that reality is maddening. As the super-wealthy increase their wealth, the vast majority of Americans grow more economically insecure in our casino capitalist system while a government of millionaires performs disgusting theatre in a pay-to-play system that does not act in the interests of the screwed majority who voted them into office.
The candidates in the recent presidential elections spoke to that injustice to varying degrees. Millions, particularly the young and most directly screwed, supported Bernie Sanders, who analyzes the situation astutely, speaks plainly and proposes humane solutions based on crucial systemic changes. Millions who hated Trump did not bother voting for Hillary Clinton, the second most hated political brand in America, because she spoke the language of a corrupt insider, promising incremental change, the rising tide that lifts all boats, and empowering little girls to grow up to be rich, powerful women. Trump, meanwhile, spoke nakedly to hatred and rage, making an emotional appeal to a mythical past when everyone knew their place, demonizing immigrants and angry minorities, and promising things he had no intention of delivering to suckers he correctly said would have supported him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue.
Not all analysis is equal, of course, but the confirmation bias means we will select data that supports our thesis, ignore data that contradicts it. Particularly, and this is worth noting again, when we are angry. When we are angry, we feel perfectly right to be angry, there is no question abut that. Virtually everyone who voted for Trump still believes they were right to vote for him, that he is doing his level best to carry out his promise to Make America Great Again, in spite of being surrounded by traitors, liars, leakers and other cowards. Trump is regularly throwing red meat to them, directly to their phones, confirming over and over that he is their man, working for them, no matter what.
Consider this example. Black kid sneers at cop, or menaces him, cop shoots black kid to death. There is a big difference, legally and morally, if the cop felt disrespected or was in actual danger, or protecting others from imminent danger, but that is a question for a jury of one’s peers. That is, if you can get a Grand Jury to indict a police officer who kills in the course of his duty to protect and serve. Depending on who the jury is, we will have two very different outcomes.
A jury of poor blacks will know other families who have lost a son to an angry cop, may have their own experience being treated badly by the police. A jury of policeman will know other cops who have been killed because they hesitated to defend themselves with deadly force. Conviction or acquittal, in a system based on ‘reasonable doubt’, will come down to where the trial is held and the composition of the jury. Lawyers are paid big bucks to get the right venue for trial and pick the best jury.
That is not to say, of course, that everything is relative and depends on your point of view. Something happened right before Michael Brown was shot to death in Ferguson, Mo. Cop told him to “get the fuck out of the street.” Brown may have said “back atcha, you fucking racist cunt.” Brown may have moved menacingly toward the cop, punched him and made a violent move to reach into the car to grab the officer’s gun, as the cop said, justifying the six shots that killed the young man. Just because we will never know exactly what happened does not change the fact that something objectively happened. Here is one account trying to piece together what actually happened.
If the officer had been wearing a body camera, and it had not been switched off, the entire incident could be viewed. That video could have exonerated the policeman in short order, if the kid actually did reach into the car to grab his gun.
There will be Americans who sincerely believe that an angry black kid who curses back at a cop deserves whatever he gets. Death sentence is fine with them. They will be outraged that a black person would respond to “get the fuck out of the street” by cursing the cop, or making a menacing move toward him. Unthinkable that anyone could curse at a police officer, no matter what the cop may have done to the citizen, let alone shove or punch a cop. I suspect Trump got the vote of virtually every American who feels that way.
We live in a culture of systematic manipulation, driven by the profit-motive, which never sleeps. It is no surprise that the most toxic notions in the world are routinely sold here in America. Millions here believe “Climate Change” is a hoax dreamed up by prosperity-hating commies like propagandist Al Gore. No amount of evidence can change a view that is baked in and confirmed by everyone they trust.
A psychopath has no limitations on what he will say or do to get his way. That’s the liberating beauty of being a psychopath, or a corporation, for that matter. If you truly have no regard for others, outside of taking their money, and no shame, you have a great advantage in a society that teaches there is only one measure of success: unlimited fame and vast fortune.
As for me, I continue to try not to let my powerlessness and hatred destroy me, and to keep the top of my head from blowing off.