Overgrown Kids, Unshackled Ids, and the Death of the Superego
By Jason Miller
“Children are completely egoistic; they feel their needs intensely and strive ruthlessly to satisfy them.”
Frightening as it may be, the Earth’s fate rests in the hands of children. With incredibly formidable military firepower at its disposal, the United States could catalyze Armageddon at any time. And while they may be adults chronologically, our sociopolitical structure is dominated by emotional infants.
Nietzsche once pronounced God dead. In the United States, we have a more readily demonstrable (and perhaps related) problem. Our collective id has rendered its governing superego impotent, and perhaps dead. Our prevailing moral standards, as inconsequential as they have become, are of the Jerry Falwell variety. They are mean-spirited, self-serving, judgmental, narrow-minded, selfish, and belligerent. As far as US Americans are concerned, Christ may as well have preached the Sermon on the Mount from the lowest recesses of Death Valley.
Recall that our basic drives such as libido, hunger, and aggression flow from the infantile dimension of our psyche known as the id. In terms of psychodynamics, the superego’s role is to counter-balance the irresponsible, amoral, and essentially sociopathic nature of the id with a healthy degree of conscience and guilt. Yet in the United States, we are inculcated with a deep sense of our exceptionalism and entitlement from the moment we emerge from the birth canal, thus crippling our ability to empathize and seriously impeding the development of our superego.
Consequently, conscience, guilt, personal discipline, and delaying gratification are barely extant in the toxic cesspool of our sociocultural environment.
Let’s examine some of the spiritually corrosive social forces which have molded our malleable natures in such a way that our behavior as a nation closely resembles that of a depraved miscreant:
While counseling and therapy are essential tools to heal from psychic wounds, emotional disorders, and mental illnesses, many mental health professionals offer their patients palliative “ego strokes” rather than the remedial brutal honesty and tough love they truly need. Instead of giving their clients the tools they need to heal themselves, they enable their ids to continue running rampant, unfettered by that “nasty old superego” and its “toxic guilt.”
Even those who don’t seek professional help are absolved of the pangs of conscience by the high priests and priestesses of the corporate media. Prostitutes to the establishment like Oprah pat them on the head, reassure them that their pathological self-absorption is wonderful, and tell them to further immerse their minds in pernicious idiocy by reading instruction manuals on narcissism like The Secret.
Commit a crime? No problem. We have a legal system, not a justice system. If you have money enough to hire a shrewd attorney, you are unlikely to face the consequences you deserve, regardless of the egregiousness of your crime. Unfortunately, if you don’t have money, you will face the equivalent of electrocution for stealing a loaf of bread, which means several brutal, dehumanizing years in the most populous prison industrial complex in the world for “crimes” like self-medicating to escape your already miserable circumstances.
Lack the cash to buy the $2,000.00 flat screen you “have to have” to watch the obscenely commercialized and over-hyped Super Bowl? No problem. In the advanced stages of our savage economic system, finance capital reigns supreme. There are untold thousands of lenders prepared to let you use their money, provided you agree to pay their usurious interest rates.
Want it yesterday? Not to worry. We have fast food, one hour photo, instant credit approval, movies on demand, pills to chase the blues and blue pills to give you an erection, instant coffee, microwave meals, zero down loans, and a host of other means to satisfy the relentlessly impatient demands of our ids.
Feeling bored, lonely, or depressed? Turn on the television. Fill your mind with inanity, brain candy, infotainment, and potent affirmations that your tenacious adherence to the reprehensible “American Way” is justified, patriotic, and admirable.
Need a career, training, money for college, the indoctrinated belief that you are risking your life for a noble cause, and the false security that your government will support you once they are done with you? “Join the people who have joined the Army” (or Marines, Navy, or Air Force). Our moneyed elite (desperately) need willing pawns to wage their wholesale terror operations in Iraq and elsewhere.
While it may sound a bit conspiratorial, before we go dismissing the notion that the erosion of our moral restraint (superego) has been intentionally engineered and orchestrated, let’s consider the question, “Cui bono?”
Having stunted, retarded, corralled, or in some cases, disabled the superegos of the “unwashed masses,” there is almost no end to the malevolence our sociopathic plutocracy, upper level military careerists, “religious” leaders, AIPAC, and reactionaries can commit in our names (with our overt or tacit approval) to further enrich and empower themselves.
Consider but a few examples of abominations for which we, as a nation, are responsible:
We have committed war crimes analogous to those of Nazi Germany through our pre-emptive invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. How many hundred thousand or million civilians must die before we realize that “collateral damage” is an Orwellian euphemism for mass murder?
We have long been complicit in the brutal oppression of the Palestinians. When the final Palestinian is imprisoned, obliterated, or driven out of Gaza and the West Bank will we then recognize that we facilitated an ethnic cleansing?
We employ economic tyranny and manipulation to make de facto colonies of developing nations, harvesting and consuming 25% of the world’s resources to “sustain” 5% of the world’s population. Isn’t gluttony one of the Seven Deadly Sins?
We listened to the likes of Ronald Reagan (a reactionary who never met a socially redeeming policy, law or public initiative he didn’t want to eliminate) when he moronically asserted that enacting universal health care would undoubtedly lead to “Godless Communism.” So we continue embracing a system enabling cynical wealthy elites and amoral corporations to generate outrageous profits derived from the administration of health care. As a result, there are 50 million uninsured US Americans, we have the highest infant mortality rate in the industrialized world, we are 37th in the world in health care quality, HMO’s and managed care entities often refuse to provide necessary medical procedures, insurance companies routinely deny claims based on technicalities, and hospitals dump indigent patients on Skid Row rather than treating them.
On the subject of indigents, how is it that a nation awash in prosperity has over a million homeless human beings on any given night? Or that cities like Orlando and Las Vegas have made homelessness a crime? How can a significant percentage of those condemned to sleep under bridges and eat from dumpsters be veterans who fought for our country? Could it be that chicken hawk ruling elites like Dick Cheney used them as cannon fodder in their wars necessitated by capitalism’s endless demand for new markets, cheaper labor, and more resources, and then disposed of them like so much rubbish when they came home?
We strong-arm developing countries into implementing neoliberal economic policies and free trade, deepening the impoverishment of their citizens to further enrich ourselves. This leaves them little choice but to migrate here, where virtually all of the money and resources are flowing. Now that 12 million “illegals” have established residence in the US, we are arrogantly preparing to perpetuate their employers’ capacity to exploit them or to implement a draconian plan to rip their families and lives apart, imprison them, and eventually send them back to the abject poverty we created.
Climate Change? We simply deny we bear an ounce of responsibility and rev up our gas-guzzling SUVs, pick-ups, and Hummers.
Yes, in spite of the extreme moral poverty reflected in the myriad wounds we continue to inflict upon the Earth and its sentient inhabitants, we have the audacity to call ourselves a Christian nation. Whether it is conscious or not, we organize our existences around the abhorrent beliefs that “it’s all about me,” “get them before they get me,” “he who dies with the most toys wins,” and “blessed are the rich, the joyous, the well-fed, the aggressive, the merciless, the heartless, and the warmongers,” thus manifesting the virtual antithesis of Christ’s teachings.
But what can you expect from a nation of unsupervised ids?