A Critique of America

Their constitution stands as a model of what a nation should strive to be. Their economy dominates the economic agenda around the world. Their cultural output is vastly influential – whether you’re watching Baywatch re-runs from a hut in Burkina Faso, or subscribing to a new season at the Met.

America. What’s gone so wrong?

Today on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head, a critique of America. And maybe I can cut off the groans or even outright indignation of those who repel from more “America Bashing” by stating our intent right off the bat: to help. Like my guest today, I, too, have a great admiration for the principles of America laid down by their Founding Fathers, who were influenced directly by the ideals of French Illuminish. But it’s important to say that these ideals are actually not American. They’re universal. That’s what made Martin Luther King so powerful as an orator – he was speaking a universal truth – one that’s always been true, is true today, and always will be true.

But I think what makes America special is that they came closest to realizing it. I’m not blind to the incompleteness of their putting into practice their own Constitution – particularly in their treatment of African Americans – but that was still some potent society they created, back aways. Well today, it’s nothing like what it was. Those transcendent words in that glorious document are now dusted off and used cynically by aggressive, arrogant, paranoid politicians to inspire Americans to all sorts of nefarious ends.

Not quite what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

But our purpose today is to try to analyze what’s gone wrong in America through our psychological eyes. To try to help Americans understand where things have gone off the rails – for gone off the rails they certainly have.

Gilbert Gambucci is a proud American in the sense of loving the foundational beliefs of the country. He’s also lived outside the U.S. for 22 years, giving him an objective perspective on his own country.

Click here to listen to this episode.

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4 thoughts on “A Critique of America

  1. Richard – this and the Leo Lima interview podcast are my first experiences of your weblog. Thank you. It is a great relief to find so much focus attending to so much disarray (in the world, in us as individuals, in our political systems)… I have long suspected that we are ‘wired, seeded & coded’ to become more self aware, fully conscious of the paradoxes of being fully human. It seems we are at the same time coded to feel inadequate, infantile, that a greater power will take care of us. And now more so – no influence, no real choice, in so-called ‘democracies’. Consciousness is however our only hope – yet people find escapism, distraction.. more comfortable… easy choices. Paradoxically it seems we naturally default to the ‘brainwash’ or ‘overpower me’ setting – believing someone else or an external ‘power’ can handle our ‘problems’ better than we can… while we escape irrationally into being weak & irresponsible yet blameless..
    These paradoxes also feel ‘natural’ as if they are part of consciousness, or ‘the human condition’. So we can’t consistently grasp the thread of our own thinking, and hence it is difficult to focus on an authentic ‘core’ of our nature (being) in the world.
    I hope your blogs & podcasts can show the current bubbling up of this ‘existential’ energy.. Perhaps we’ll see at last an end to the ‘original sin’ cop-out favoured by the politics of power..

    So as you can imagine I am now ‘on board’ to see where the discussions take us..
    thanks once again,
    Sonya Perry (UK)

  2. Richard – this and the Leo Lima interview podcast are my first experiences of your weblog. Thank you. It is a great relief to find so much focus attending to so much disarray (in the world, in us as individuals, in our political systems)… I have long suspected that we are ‘wired, seeded & coded’ to become more self aware, fully conscious of the paradoxes of being fully human. It seems we are at the same time coded to feel inadequate, infantile, that a greater power will take care of us. And now more so – no influence, no real choice, in so-called ‘democracies’. Consciousness is however our only hope – yet people find escapism, distraction.. more comfortable… easy choices. Paradoxically it seems we naturally default to the ‘brainwash’ or ‘overpower me’ setting – believing someone else or an external ‘power’ can handle our ‘problems’ better than we can… while we escape irrationally into being weak & irresponsible yet blameless..
    These paradoxes also feel ‘natural’ as if they are part of consciousness, or ‘the human condition’. So we can’t easily grasp the thread of our own thinking, and hence it is difficult to focus, to feel the authentic ‘core’ of our nature in the world.
    I hope your blogs & podcasts can show the current bubbling up of this ‘existential’ energy.. Perhaps we’ll see at last an end to the ‘original sin’ cop-out favoured by the politics of power..

    So as you can imagine I am now ‘on board’ to see where the discussions take us..
    thanks once again,
    Sonya Perry (UK)

  3. Hi Sonya,
    Thanks for your comment. I agree, the human being seems addicted to “easy” choices, which in the long run are not easy at all. And certainly not healthy. It’s “easy” to make the choice to avoid adding pollution control to the factory so we can keep profits up. It’s “easy” to drink to avoid problems. But the consequences are disastrous.

    It’s also interesting what you say about how human beings are “wired, seeded & coded to become more self aware.” Agreed. There is an essential nature inside us that drives us to be happy and fulfilled. However, we’re not achieving these things, and the reasons why are what we explore every week in this Program.

    As you may not know fully yet, my work on these programs is based entirely on some extraordinary discoveries in human psycho-socio pathology by a Brazilian/Austrian psychoanalyst named Norbert Keppe. You’ll come to know more about him and his extraordinary work as you make your way through other podcasts. Just a quick summary of one of his key points that might address the paradoxes you mention more completely: the human being has everything inside to be happy and fulfilled personally and in society, but we deny and negate that because of psycho-socio reasons. So it’s this denial and negation that needs to be addressed, and that, as you suggested, is a deeply existential question.

    Welcome to the discussion, Sonya. When you get around to it, send me your e-mail address so I can keep in closer touch.

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