By Mike Starry
My take on election campaigning so far reminds me my government’s attempts to kill me and my friends by inventing a war in Vietnam, a country now receiving our arms. Researching their history, I found they were nationalist enemies of the Chinese, not pawns of domino communism. Our leaders and war contractors lied, we protested and disturbed the politicians enough to end it.
After the rich and powerful finish a war they need new scapegoats, otherwise, ordinary citizens may start looking at the fortunes of their leaders compared to the misfortunes of the public. One function of corrupt propaganda is to create imaginary conflicts between two or more groups, sometimes known as, “Let’s you and him fight.” A fraudulent leader will also craft his image to fulfill the need to take part in obsessive practices of leadership adoration, magical thinking (false relationships between acts and events), and tribalism (a preoccupation with feeling important).
The economically-abused and uneducated have the need to feel important due to anxieties related to poverty, a lack of status, safety, love, and belonging, and ultimately a fear of death. Aware of these anxieties, a clever and unethical propagandist will emulate the role of a wealthy, benevolent leader who has risen above their fray and can save them from a fearful future.
I realized the motivation behind all money-grubbers is an addiction. Behind the One Percent’s addiction for more of everything is a fear of death, thus, their interpretation of how to cope is to acquire more money, stuff, and status. While it appears they are running towards more money, they are actually running from their fear of death. The word “catabolism” is used in biology to refer to the condition whereby a living thing feeds on itself. Catabolic capitalism is a self-cannibalizing economic system of massive wealth in the hands of a few who buy the political system. Unless we free ourselves from its grip, catabolic capitalism becomes our future.
Credit World War II for Western European nations avoiding these anxieties by establishing institutions like inexpensive health care, college education, job training, subsidized child care, one-year maternity leave, and a generous pension system paid for by taxes that do not support bloated military budgets and endless war created by drone bombing innocents prompting “endless terrorism,” and the scapegoating and propaganda that go with it.
Wealth seekers, however, soon find that their wealth does not bring about a heightened defense against their fear of death, nor does it build up their confidence and self-esteem. So they seek more wealth. Like the drug addict, they do not care or even think about the anguish their hoarding causes others.
Psychologists have found many personality factors that describe this type of person. Among them are: a low sense of humor, conformity, a dogmatic approach to life, fear and aggression, and intolerance of ambiguity. These factors are also associated with political conservatism.
Some conservatives have a lot of psychological issues including low self-esteem, the need for closure in their attitudes, and greed as a way of alleviating their anxieties. Some of them seek out more and more riches as a way of bolstering their mental Anxiety Buffer zone as a shield against death anxiety. For some of these ideas I must credit ex-executive and professor Edward Phillips, author of The New American Challenge: Discover How We Can Eliminate Poverty and Create Trillions of Dollars in New Wealth by Making Wiser Economic Choices.
An alternative to our rat race lifestyle includes allowing yourself to have a flickering thought that someday you’re going to die, and someday the people you love are going to die. When I do this I then think, “Isn’t it simply wonderful that I get another day to get this right?” I’ve tried it, and it’s incredibly powerful.
Also, our military conflicts, devastation of the environment, and rampant economic inequality by mindless conspicuous consumption are all harmful indicators of death anxiety running amok. On the contrary, having compassion for others is simply the outward manifestation of self-love, which is the basic message of Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha. My take is to take responsibility for my day and my future rather than blaming others and not let greed kill happiness.
Imagine a spacecraft from another galaxy passing by, and after really looking our planet, concluding that the “inhabitants of Earth are dominated by small groups of psychological weaklings who are afraid of dying, and they have hoarded all the wealth and are trying to take it to the grave with them. Let’s pass this planet by.”
Mike Starry is a resident of Fresno and retired librarian.