Laura Knight-Jadczyk wrote back in 2003:
When I first moved abroad at the age of 21, I quickly realized that I was, like most Americans, abysmally ignorant with regard to politics. I discovered – to my great dismay – that in my host country, most of the average people around me – shopkeepers, hairdressers, taxi-drivers – knew more about what was going on in the USA and the rest of the world than I did; a LOT more! I had no IDEA of the things that were going on that were common knowledge to other peoples in the world. And here, it wasn’t simply a matter of having a different opinion than others. It was a matter of an almost complete lack of INFORMATION within the very country that promotes democracy as the rule of an “informed citizenry.” I realized with striking clarity exactly how ignorant I was at that point, and I admitted it to myself. Further, I was embarrassed for myself and other Americans who were seen (rightly so) as equally ignorant and “in the dark” politically and culturally speaking. BUT, due to this embarrassment and realization of the extraordinary extent of my ignorance, I determined to do something about it.
But there are so many Americans who – when faced with similar situations, faced with their own ignorance – deny it aggressively. And generally, the “last word” for them is: “Oh, he/she doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about! They’re ‘foreigners’.” And that’s the key: “foreigners.”
“Foreigners” can’t possibly know anything because they aren’t American. And Americans, by default of having the most bombs on the planet, always “know” what’s up. Or, at the very least, their leaders do and we just don’t have to think about such things. That’s what we elect our leaders for, isn’t it? So they will handle all that boring and tedious political stuff and leave us alone to watch “Survivor” and the Super Bowl and wash our new SUV so that the Joneses can be green with envy!
And they leave it at that. It’s the preferred way to handle all such questions. Forget the entire issue of an “informed citizenry” and any possible outrage that citizens of the US are not only NOT informed, they are being deliberately DIS-informed!
They don’t even realize that “Survivor” is programming them to the very attitudes that are being displayed by their leaders – normalizing it, so to say – and at the present moment these attitude are being manifested in their own lives in a direct and terrifying way. For many in the US, their future is that there won’t be any more Super Bowls, and the SUV certainly doesn’t get enough gas mileage to get them far enough away from the terror that will confront them when they are “voted off the island” in the global game of “Survivor.”
Why does this condition exist? Why are so many people so susceptible to the “official culture” and the mass media propaganda? Why are so many people willing slaves to it? And why do some others – once the questions have been raised – begin to seek the knowledge that reveals the man behind the curtain?
Perhaps it is more than simply a matter of very clever and intense programming. Perhaps it is also a matter of the nature of a person?
LKJ: In recent times, I have considered many ideas in an attempt to answer this question. The members of the Quantum Future School have been engaged in studying psychopathy and pseudo-psychopathy for about two years now. This has certainly prepared most of us to be able to see the man behind the curtain, or, in this case, behind the “mask of sanity.” But it still doesn’t answer the question as to why psychopathic behavior seems to be so widespread in the US. (That is not to say that it doesn’t exist everywhere – that’s a given.)
Linda Mealey of the Department of Psychology at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota, has recently proposed certain ideas in her paper: The Sociobiology of Sociopathy: An Integrated Evolutionary Model. These ideas address the increase in psychopathy in American culture by suggesting that in a competitive society – capitalism, for example – psychopathy is adaptive and likely to increase. She writes:
I have thus far argued that some individuals seem to have a genotype that disposes them to [psychopathy].
[Psychopathy describes] frequency-dependent, genetically based, individual differences in employment of life strategies. [Psychopaths] always appear in every culture, no matter what the socio-cultural conditions. [...]
Competition increases the use of antisocial and Machiavellian strategies and can counteract pro-social behavior
Some cultures encourage competitiveness more than others and these differences in social values vary both temporally and cross-culturally.[...] Across both dimensions, high levels of competitiveness are associated with high crime rates and Machiavellianism.
High populaton density, an indirect form of competition, is also associated with reduced pro-social behavior and increased anti-social behavior. [...] [Mealey, op. cit.]
The conclusion is that the American way of life has optimized the survival of psychopaths with the consequence that it is an adaptive “life strategy” that is extremely successful in American society, and thus has increased in the population in strictly genetic terms. What is more, as a consequence of a society that is adaptive for psychopathy, many individuals who are NOT genetic psychopaths have similarly adapted, becoming “effective” psychopaths, or “secondary sociopaths.”
A lot of this reminds me of children of abusive parents who grow up to accept abuse as normal, becoming abusive to both themselves and others. Read more here.