[Paleopsych] america

Steve shovland at mindspring.com
Wed Jul 21 17:38:40 UTC 2004

If the fanatics, both here and elsewhere,
are seen to be damaging the whole, then
they will be extruded from the mass :-)

Steve Hovland

-----Original Message-----
From:	Michael Christopher [SMTP:anonymous_animus at yahoo.com]
Sent:	Wednesday, July 21, 2004 10:31 AM
To:	paleopsych at paleopsych.org
Subject:	[Paleopsych] america 

>>The willingness to forgive, embodied in so much of
the world's embrace of the American Dream, is being
replaced by a rather vicious craving to see America --
which, under the Bush administration, has increasingly
defined its greatness by way of military 
triumphs -- humbled.<<

--I wouldn't disconnect the anger at America from the
anger in America. Anger tends to spread out on both
sides of a conflict, causing each to mirror the
others, or to take amplified polar stances that are
part of a single dance. It's inaccurate to say
"America is the root of all the world's problems" and
it's just as inaccurate to say "America is just doing
good, and is hated for no rational reasons." Both are
oversimplifications designed to promote group unity
over group sanity, and both are impotent to solve the
problems that need to be solved. In frustration,
groups resort to self-congratulation and martyrdom,
and the US oscillates between strength-pride ("We will
prevail, God is with us!") and victim-pride ("Why does
everyone pick on us! We never did anything wrong!"),
just as the Arab nations do.

There are poisonous forms of nationalism, including
religious nationalism, both in the US and throughout
the Middle East. The nationalist groups mirror one
another's anger, and they both undermine long term
security by fuelling fantasies of absolute and final
war. On all sides, the security-minded pragmatists are
drawn into alliances with fanatics because the
alternatives are seen as weak. It is when the
religious fanatics and dysfunctionally patriotic
groups (who, often as not, use politics as an outlet
for personal rage and frustration) go too far, are
shamed by their own actions, that the security minded
pragmatists detach themselves and are better able to
make appropriate strategic moves while the liberal
wing of the culture forms alliances with liberal
groups on the other side. As long as liberals on all
sides are marginalized and religious fanatics
appeased, there can be no solution because the
strategic thinking of the pragmatists is co-opted and
distorted by the pro-Armageddon factions. The United
States is almost evenly split, so it is inappropriate
to generalize except to say that US policy has been a
mixture of pragmatism and idealism, in sometimes
disastrous proportions. Middle Eastern nations are
dealing with a more precarious balance, and
pragmatists are routinely overruled by fanatics. 

With so much of the world falling into absolutist
mindsets coupled with visceral anger and frustration,
the situation looks very bad both for long-term
pragmatists who want security and liberals who want
fairness and moral balance. Fanaticism may, at least
temporarily, draw the world's neural net and physical
resources into something resembling insanity, which
makes it exponentially likely that nuclear or
biological weapons will be used. 


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