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Culture Change

Can the ecopsychologically disturbed citizenry question legitimacy of rulers?

by Jan Lundberg

Is the average U.S. citizen mentally disturbed?  One can judge this by today's widespread inaction amidst global ecocide and blatant, vicious greed.  We can also delve further into cultural and psychological factors and effects.  

Aside from grave social injustice and ecological destruction, our very culture contributes to general "dis-ease" of our mental/spiritual state.  Prior to global environmental decline commencing with the accumulation of fossil-fuels pollution, the dominant commercial culture destroyed people and nature piecemeal.  Now, as today's advanced civilization threatens all life perhaps, our psychological state adds to our dilemma.  Simultaneously, the injured Earth and her spasms add unrelentingly to our mounting dis-ease.  Despite all this, we have to believe that with increased awareness and action humanity may have a future.

Today's influences on our psyches include consumerism and socio-environmental challenges, such as all the deadly varieties of petroleum dependence.  This state of affairs engages us mightily on many levels, although U.S. society, especially, tries to ignore, deny or minimize the truth.  Most of the world, including the other American nations, has cultures less materialistic.  Thus, other nations function at a calmer pace, are more family oriented, and have less inherent violence than the U.S.  

As the U.S. population is set in its unsustainable ways, it shall suffer a lot more pain than it already endures.  The positive aspect of this scenario is that the truth shall set us free, when we are suddenly forced by circumstances to change radically.  Success, however, is not guaranteed unless we all participate; the refrain "they will think of something" is outmoded (to say the least).

Ecopsychologists explore aspects of our fast-changing world that torment our minds, hearts and spirits, from an ecological or environmentalist perspective.  However, as a cultural analysis can offer as much eco-insight as ecopsychology, together the two approaches reveal our world to us and allow us to show the world what we feel.  And with activists' keen interest in vital information suppressed by the corporate media and government, we see diverse conscious citizens joining ecopsychologists and other culture changers (e.g., artists) to offer insight on society's lack of interest in sustainable living.  

Meanwhile, everyday people are waking up to the need to garden and spend more time on their creative and health needs, while noticing the extreme hot air emanating from Washington, D.C.  If the aware and active segment of the population were more numerous and vocal, the rest of the nation and world be less threatened and more sane.  

But there are pressures to conform in the U.S., as in rallying around the flag.  This prevents citizens from perceiving what the outside world has noted: the "particularly virulent social pathogen as the basis for much of the present global strife, with Washington at the center of the epidemic." (Ritt Goldstein, Asia Times, July 8, 2004) 

The eco-disturbed mind: worse than you thought

Assessing our collective and individual insanity to understand its roots may not be sound science as practiced by the medical "e$tablishment," but in these precarious times we mustn't confine our examination to  the accepted practice.  Its own data help shed light: a Harvard Medical School study found evidence of mental problems in 26.4% of people in the United States, versus, for example, 8.2% of people in Italy. (Source, June 3, 2004)  

The U.S. is populated by  many, many nice people who do not prey upon others.  These nice people will recycle, and many will allow their cars to be washed by exuberant students who are nicely raising money for their schools.  Most everyone apparently behaves as if sane. 
[Editorial note:  U.S. Vice President Cheney's recently telling a Senator "Go fuck yourself" publicly in the Senate has perhaps ushered in some honesty in a town rife with — shall we say a tiny bit more politely — fukkers.  This essay requires the f-word to answer the burning question: Are Americans fukked? (i.e., fukked up, but also fukked over).  Let's see
en passant how an alternative spelling works.]

Just because most people are not "fukkers," this does not mean they are not fukked up.  In fact, we are, and moreover, we were fukked over even before our birth. My point is that everyone in the U.S. is fukked to some significant degree, and until this is recognized, reforms and revolutionary attempts at change will be fukked too.

Part of our problem is that pundits and politicos across the political spectrum do not want to disparage the intelligence or morality of the common man or woman.  The Left avoids this by attacking the idle rich and the business class.  Workers and the "lumpen proletariat," on the other hand, are held as innocent victims deserving of social services as well as cheap energy and unlimited driving privilege. We surmise this from such films as Fahrenheit 9/11, whose maker Michael Moore has been anointed the leader of the Left, by the New York Times.

At the same time, those on the Right lament not the culture they uphold, but the the erosion of family values, a general lack of patriotism and the Leftist elitists as our nation's overriding moral problem.  How is it that the Right and its flag-waving supporters adopt group-think notions such as Iraqi co-responsibility for 9/11 and possession of weapons of mass destruction justifying a U.S. invasion?  Here is how:  

'"Most people develop a form of "pseudo-sanity", doing so as a function of the emotional imperative of adapting to "pseudo-realities". The upshot is that they live within a "social phantasy system" of varying degrees.  The described result for the individual is a proportionate loss of the ability to think critically, as well as limited ability to consider anyone or anything outside one's particular group, especially in a positive light.    "People who are deeply embedded within social-phantasy systems like these function effectively within the framework of those groups.' (Ritt Goldstein, quoting Dr Daniel Burston in "U.S. Patriotic Pride and Fear", Asia Times, July 8, 2004)

It is no coincidence that it behooves the Rightist factory-owning class to pollute away for profit without regard to the health effects on the population.  With media and government complicity, the naive U.S. public (as well as most nations) hardly considers the  toxic poisoning of everyone's brain — a buried, taboo subject.  Substances such as lead, carbon monoxide and fluoride dumb us down and subdue our behavior (see Culture Change Letter #45, "Brain control of the masses via pollutants").  It's hard for people to get riled up in the streets together, making demands, when the cancer epidemic rages and the disabled mind says out loud, "What's on TV?"

Many social-justice activists and their supporters are lenient with their opposition by refusing to acknowledge any overpopulation problem.  With overpopulation already achieved — as measured by the ecosystem's carrying capacity both exceeded by our numbers and diminished in its quality — one would think there would be some frowns over high birth rates or super-high legal immigration into the U.S (the most wasteful and consumeristic nation).  But no.

With more rats in the cage ­ and the cage is not getting any bigger or greener ­ there is more violence and other pathological behavior.  Still, citizen action on issues of long-term survival and immediate justice is subdued, ironically because short-term terror keeps people from participating cohesively in social change.

Social justice is vital, but unless we put the Earth first, there will not be a human race to protect and defend.  Some point out that unless there is social justice, the Earth will never be put first.  True, but when environmentalists demand cheaper energy and focus on vilifying Enron — while not attacking high energy consumption — this kind of social justice betrays the Earth.

Similarly, when growth ("development") is pushed by environmentalists who put a green spin on compromising, this treatment of the Earth is insidious if not crazy in the long term.  People are fooled and confused when issues are raised to obfuscate and obscure the main issues.  An example today may be when low-income housing is being justified for constructing a new parking garage as essential for a “green” building honoring an environmental purist (see Culture Change Letter #63: "A David Brower Memorial Parking Garage for Berkeley?").  

What we see here is that we do Vice President Cheney's bidding: we are fucking ourselves, all the rest of humankind, and nature at large.

Even the best efforts of progressive citizens can be schemes tainted by aspects of the greater scam of the long-since fucked economic system.  Given the less-than-pure reality of development in general, this wasting of precious time — while the Earth and its atmosphere continues to be burned up — means that for anyone who does not object and resist, one is too fucked to act.  Just because the victims may be nice people, and not even own a car, does not mean they aren't fucked.

When we pursue the truth to its logical insightfulness, we see that an unjust, violent social system has no legitimacy.

When a system lacks legitimacy, the defense of the system or just putting off the day of ecological/economic reckoning is not only questionable but, if deliberate, unconscionable.  People can't go on being so fukked, or "it's koytans!" (curtains).

(Conclusion of the first of two parts.  Part Two is: Factors of instability for a disturbed population — Are Americans Fukked? )


 July 14, 2004
YellowTimes article by John Chuckman (
Siamo tutti pazzi qui!)
Plastic Oceans
Global Warming Crisis Council and the Pledge for Climate Protection

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Jan Lundberg's columns are protected by copyright; however, non-commercial use of the material is permitted as long as full attribution is given with a link to this website, and he is informed of the re-publishing:



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