By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
Our deep, dark, self-destructive secret, America’s consumed with self-hatred
Yes, America has a deep, dark self-destructive secret: We hate ourselves. We hate America. Yes, Americans are consumed with self-hatred. Can’t face our demons. In denial, destroying our great nation.
Basic psychology: A dangerous virus infects America’s collective unconscious. We project our self-hatred on our enemies, the world “out there,” blaming leaders, bosses, neighbors, family. American souls are in so much pain, we attack everyone, anyone, those closest.
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Yes, basic psychology. Freud, Jung warned us. Self-haters must blame. Can’t stand the darkness festering within. Project on “them,” blaming others, anyone. Self-haters carry a deep secret the therapist seeks, to help free them from their self-destructive pain.
The big problem is, this virus is spreading fast. Millions of self-hating Americans collect and dump their secrets in our one big collective unconscious. Hidden deepest: Our fear America has “peaked.” America is declining. To 1% GDP. Wars will accelerate. Do-nothing politics. Widening inequality. All hiding under the disappearing myth of the American Dream, a future where if you just work hard, tomorrow will be better than today, for our children, ourselves, everyone in this great nation. Gone. An illusion.
Yes, deep within our souls is America’s new collective reality. No longer leader of the free world, we’re falling behind, falling into a self-hatred so painful we block it from our conscious mind. In denial, we won’t take personal responsibility for our pain, our recovery. Instead, we get rid of it … get someone else to take our pain … someone to blame … someone “out there” to take these overwhelming feelings.
Americans can’t stand who we’ve become, what we’re done to ourselves, must blame someone, find someone to take away our painful self-hatred secret.
America needs Dr. Freud’s couch, to search for our lost soul
Welcome to the dark world of American self-hatred. Deny it all you want, it’s now trapped deep in our collective soul. David Rothkopf, editor of Foreign Policy, author of “Superclass,” “Power Inc.” and “Running the World,” recently captured the collective angst millions of self-hating Americans are carrying, fighting about, dying for, projecting onto neighbors, leaders, everyone, making others the enemy … avoiding the real enemy facing them in the mirror.
Listen to the collective self-hating American soul Rothkopf sees, the one tearing apart our nation. Imagine Dr. Freud here diagnosing, analyzing, advising the patient, 300 million angry Americans in pain. How do we get out of this deep, dark psychological hell hole? Listen, you’ve heard so many of these angry individual voices screaming their pains, targeting anyone and everybody, do you hear yourself?
“America is in decline … America is broke … America is unwilling to lead … America has alienated the world … America is fat … America is addicted to sugar, reality television,” and thanks to social media and selfies, America is “addicted to hearing itself speak.”
“Washington is dysfunctional …Washington is corrupt … Washington is full of liars, con men, and self-promoters … who prove that there is no limit to how far people can go in life if they have the right PAC spending dough behind them.”
Our self-loathing is so lethal says Rothkopf … “Americans are a violent people … narcissistic … misogynistic … puritanical, hyped up on religiosity … turning against science, math, and history … Americans don’t read … don’t work hard anymore … The American dream is dead … Today’s children will be the first generation who must learn to expect less, not more, than their parents had.”
Then, as any great student of Freud and Jung would do, Rothkopf intervenes, tells his patient to cut the crap, stop the whining: “Snap out of it, America. You’re good enough, smart enough — who cares if people don’t like you?” Rothkopf would make a great therapist, maybe for one, maybe even a million self-hating Americans. But not all.
Stop whining? Grow up? Take responsibility … maybe it’s too late
Today everyone wants the quick cure. But there really is no magic, quick-fix, snap-out-of-it solution. We didn’t see any with the few hundred we helped in therapy. Secrets are deep, lack of self-awareness enormous, resistance great, self-hatred projected on others powerful, so strong that if you multiply all the pain and anger of millions of angry Americans, it’s impossible to “snap out” fast, let alone change course. Therapy, recovery takes time, a luxury America has little of … it may be too late.
And how do we factor in the real enemies: Big Oil, the Koch Bros? Sen. Mitch McConnell’s army of GOP billionaires who, since the eve of his inauguration, hate everything Obama stands for? Tea partiers who hate all things government. Terrorists? Sadly, the “Great American Self-Hating Collective UnConsciousness” may be too big, hundreds of millions. With so many angry diverse voices feeding on their own hatred.
Moreover, America’s new hate-filled collective unconscious is not some brief psychological condition. Unfortunately, it’s systemic, may be permanently wired in America’s brain, psyche, soul. A massive self-destructive virus has taken control of America’s collective unconscious, our brain, our future.
This self-hatred analysis was reinforced by another column in the same Foreign Policy issue. Strategic-trend analysts Elbridge Colby and Paul Lettow ask: “Have We Hit Peak America?” Their answer: Yes. “American leadership in the world is imperiled. And at a fundamental level, the American people sense it. A number of recent polls show that more Americans than ever before, 60% in some cases, believe U.S. power is waning.”
Colby and Lettow see this new “declinist anxiety” sweeping America, supported by the facts: “The relative economic decline of the U.S. is a fact. For the first time in 200 years, most growth is occurring in the developing world, and the speed with which that shift, a function of globalization, has occurred is hard to fathom … in 1990 just 14% of cross-border flows of goods, services, and finances originated in emerging economies, today nearly 40% do. As recently as 2000, the GDP of China was one-tenth that of the United States; just 14 years later, the two economies are equal” Worse, a CNN poll “ found that Americans think by a 2-to-1 margin that their children’s lives will be worse than their own” doubting “the American dream.”
Image problem? No, we must face head-on the self-hatred in our soul
In spite of their dark data and darker forecasts, our Foreign Policy experts wrap up on a positive note: “While believing that America is doomed to decline is a fallacy, refusing to confront the problems that imperil its economic vitality would be no less a failing,” warn Colby and Lettow. “American strength and freedom of action are not rights to be inherited but outcomes to be earned. … It is time to play the long game.”
Long game? In today’s new chasing-the-hottest-trend world? Dominated by millions of social-media Twitter brains, folks with attention spans shorter than 30-second commercials? Manipulated by billionaires, Big Business, Big Banks, Big Oil, Big Government and Big Data with even shorter get-richer quick attention spans? No, what’s trending this moment always beats the “long game.”
Rothkopf laments the fact that “for the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the Earth, having ideas like these bouncing around the Internet and laced into talk-show banter sure does suggest that America has a nasty self-image problem. Call it body-politic-dysmorphia. Call it the self-hating superpower disease. Call the problem whatever you want … so long as you recognize the country needs to deal with it.” Instead, we’re deep in denial.
Unfortunately America has far more than an “image problem” that a fancy ad campaign might fix. There are too many signs that the collective unconscious of America’s hundreds of millions of self-haters has actually joined forces with their hated enemies. Yes! They are really in a classic conspiracy: Big Oil and Pinto owners, Big banks and credit-card holders, Big Business and shoppers buying essential goods, Big Tech and the rest of us endlessly searching for the next big thing, and so on.
Yes, America has a deep, dark, dangerous, self-destructive secret: We hate ourselves. We hate America. Yes, Americans are consumed with self-hatred. In denial, but won’t face our demons. America has “self-hating superpower disease,” as Rothkopf says. And it’s crushing our individual souls and our nation’s collective unconscious.
We do need to “recognize the country needs to deal with it.” But refuse. And the clock’s ticking. As Pogo famously put it: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Not someone out there. So get Freud, before we’re past that point of no-return … before it’s too late to change direction … before we self-destruct our great nation.