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A Paleolithic Mindset: The 21st century is leaving the U.S. in the dust

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Trapped like dinosaurs, our national political representatives and the interests who support them are mired in a Paleolithic mindset that is condemning us all to oblivion.

This mindset equates intransigence with integrity, corporate interest with national interest, military might with security, and negotiation with weakness; and the delusion is making the world increasingly dangerous.

These frozen individuals are so obsessed with, and blinded by, their twisted idea of how the world should be that they can't see how the world is---how it works, or what it needs.

In their skewed vision of entitlement, only the very wealthy---those who have profited from the infrastructure that all of society has provided---are entitled to healthcare, education, opportunity, and economic security; everyone else is simply entitled to the misery they find themselves in.

This Paleolithic mindset sees all the world's resources as means of private profit, to be selfishly plundered in the moment rather than as a collective common to be shared judiciously for generations to come.

This mindset does not believe in constitutional government---government that protects the interests of the people against the tyranny of concentrated power and wealth, and founded on the authority of law, not dictatorship. From a Paleolithic point of view, power and violence take the place of reason and compassion.

This mindset has contempt for the democratic process itself. It sees authority as supreme---"I'm the decider!" It rigs elections and calls it democracy. It considers the citizenry as dependent and immature---as vassals who need continual guidance and control, and who must be manipulated by constant fear.

This mindset sees no ethical contradiction or moral lapse in putting others in harm's way while evading such vulnerability itself, nor does it have a problem with sending living-wage jobs offshore while denying American unemployed workers a social safety-net.
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This mindset believes that ends justify means. For example, such an archaic consciousness will finance and support terrorist groups and terrorist activities if it perceives that such actions will further its interests or weaken its enemy; and it will undermine legal and democratic processes that it believes hinder its efforts. It will then deny that its actions have led to the calamities it faces.

This Paleolithic mindset is incapable of seeing the complexities of reality; to it everything is black and white, good and evil. When it sees the violence of a terrorist act, it only asks "who?"---not "why?"

This mindset, despite the evidence, is incapable of seeing that the violence of terrorism is the way that the politically weak and powerless get the powerful to acknowledge them and negotiate because no other means have worked.

And this mindset doesn't acknowledge its own brand of indiscriminate violence---war---as an act of terrorism.

This Paleolithic mindset refuses to see and remedy the legitimate grievances that lead to terrorist actions. And once such ignorance and callousness provoke a terrorist response, this mindset sees negotiation as weakness, and might as its only resource, military action its only solution: of course, it was not bombing the IRA into oblivion that brought peace and stability to Northern Ireland; that was achieved by the British negotiating with a group that had used terrorism to get to the negotiating table. The same is true of Israeli negotiations, however clandestine, with its adversaries. The weak and the hopeless will always resort to acts of terror when all else fails. And no amount of counter-violence will stop it.
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This mindset does not learn from the past, lacking curiosity about and interest in any historical event that doesn't bolster its own preconceptions. A Paleolithic mindset prefers the Dark Ages to the Age of Enlightenment.

This mindset does not understand or acknowledge the interconnection of all people and all nations of the world---except as consumers and producers who can be exploited to generate the wealth of a few.

This mindset cannot conceive or understand that human beings can and often do things for the sheer joy of doing them, and not for profit, or ulterior motive, or self-aggrandizement, or fear of punishment, or anticipation of reward.

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Donald Archer is a painter, observer, and commentator living on California's Central Coast. His work may be seen at www.DonaldArcher.com.

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