I've written several essays on the pathology in our society. But none have been as complete and diagnostic as the descriptions to be found in this book, Sociopathic Society, A People's Sociology of the United States, by author and Sociology professor, Charles Derber.
In it he writes, " A sociopathic society, paradoxically creates social norms that are antisocial -- that is, norms that assault the well-being and survival of much of the population and undermine the social bonds and sustainable environmental conditions essential to any form of social order."
And as counter-intuitive as it may sound, that the social norms are the reason for the pathology, the evidence is undeniable. We are living in a society that is tearing itself apart, ostensibly to save itself.
Derber goes on to quote Karl Marx, "Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat."
In our time, the two camps are 1) the owners of capital, who also own the government, the vast majority of the wealth and the propaganda machinery and 2) the rest of us, the 99 percent, as we have come to call ourselves.
So the battle lines are drawn, not on substantive issues like the collapse of the economic system and how the present form of capitalism is diverting all the wealth upwards. The issues show up in at least four categories in the skirmishes sent our way by those who own the propaganda machinery: The four G's: Guns, God, Gays and the role of Government.
Let's take guns as an example. The undeniable fact is that our violence is more lethal than that of any other civilized modern nation because we have far more guns per capita than any of them. More profits for the gun and ammunition manufacturers who are major contributors to the propaganda machinery.
So now this camp is promoting a retrogressive and anti-social, social norm; a need to carry a concealed weapon for protection against other Americans.
Social norms are not written down anywhere. So how do I know it's a social norm? They are only discovered by breaking them. And when you break them, all hell rains down on you for reminding the true believers that there just might be a reason not to believe.
In this case, it happened when I rejected the gun lobby's argument for carrying a concealed weapon. More guns in public life can only end in more gun violence.
Regarding God and Gays, I don't know which would be more fearsome, coming out as an atheist or homosexual. Fortunately, I don't have to face either of those tasks. Although I sometimes think I'm hiding my atheist suspicions behind my agnosticism.
Our mistake is our inability to differentiate causal variables from the symptoms they cause. Instead, we declare war on our own symptoms, inevitably created by our own sociopathic society. Got schizophrenia?
Because we are crisis problem solvers, looking into long term solutions gives us an emotional hernia. It just seems easier to strap on a concealed weapon to protect ourselves from the people who threaten us than it is to fix the circumstances that create the people who threaten us.
If we are to ever solve our problems permanently, we will need to at least consider that it just might be easier to provide education, healthcare, decent housing and job opportunities to the marginalized and potential criminal elements in society, rather than have shoot-outs in the streets.
Which brings me to the fourth G, government. I paraphrase, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s comments here:
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