Sociopath: a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.
The Internet and social media are a wonderful thing. Usually. But the capacity for using the Internet to also socialize anger, fears or repressed emotions is a seemingly new phenomenon in human history.
All it takes, given ready access to content or material that reflects the anger, fear or repressed emotions of an anti-social society is a platform to receive and share affirmation of one’s most harmful beliefs and sociopathy can propagate itself completely at will.
Organizations and individuals that understand the need of fellow sociopaths to share their angst-ridden and aggressive feelings quickly learn to produce memes and other dog-whistle messaging to propagate the hate. At left is just one example.
Notice that this meme starts off with an invitation to anger. It appears to be aimed at people that would disagree with all that follows. But really, it is a meme designed to cultivate anger in all those that would agree with the nasty claims to follow.
The supposed meaning behind this meme is to hold welfare recipients accountable when it comes to using illegal drugs. The general implication here is that welfare recipients are too lazy to work for themselves and sit around using drugs all day. It’s interesting to
note from the statistics shown that the number of Americans on welfare is only a little greater than Americans that are unemployed. The number of Americans on food stamps is the more interesting statistic, with more than 41M receiving that form of government aid. What these statistics more accurately reveal is a society struggling to make ends meet in a culture where income inequality has grown progressively worse over the last few decades.
The transfer of wealth from the earning potential of the middle class that once consisted of labor union families and other good jobs has produced a nation where there literally is no money available to a large percentage of its citizens. The reasons for this are manifold, but at least one notable factor has been the export of manufacturing and industrial jobs overseas. This migration of capital out of the United States has included a disinvestment in infrastructure maintenance, another source of good jobs and income for millions of Americans.
So it should be no real surprise that people have turned to government help in response to the almost aggressive and often ignorant removal of income sources from much of the population.
The ironic consequence is that the people who have been victimized by these trends seek explanations in the wrong places, resulting in perverse alliances and even greater anger that builds on itself.
Wage-earners that still make a decent living express anger at paying taxes for those who seem to live “on the dole.” These include welfare and food stamp recipients. A new target for anger emerged as well as a product of Obamacare, in which government-drawn subsidies are offered to help pay for health care. The determining factor is how much an individual makes. At a level of income below $41,000 or so, subsidies become available.
This feeds the idea that wealthier citizens are paying for the subsistence of millions of other people. The conservative meme on this topic is that people ought to fend for themselves. Programs such as Social Security (actually an insurance program to which people pay premiums) and Medicaid are other favorite targets. As part of the New Deal, the Roosevelt-era response to the Great Depression, these programs have galled the Right for more than 70 years. It’s all part of the perception that government has turned into a nursemaid for America.
Symptoms of a greater problem
But these programs are more symptomatic than causal purposes of government debt and spending. When a nation refuses to consider that its economic policies have transferred wealth in outrageous ways to a very small percentage of the populace who happen to be exempted in many cases from paying into social programs, it’s no wonder things have gotten out of balance.
So it takes a sociopath to ignore the reality of income equality and project anger on those victimized by economic policies that reduce living wage, eliminate jobs and foster age and racial discrimination.
This sociopathy evidenced itself during the most recent economic downtown when a number of companies announced (rather proudly it seemed) that they would not hire anyone that had been out of work more than six months. And the predominant advice for all those over the age of fifty years old is that when seeking a job one should hide their age.
All this is evidence of the dog-eat-dog sociopathy that civilized culture is supposed to avoid. It is now abetted by a brand of so-called Christianity that worships money and prosperity as signs that God favors one person over another. That same brand of Christianity is closely aligned with political allies who favor trickle-down economics and other disproven claims that making the wealthy even wealthier will provide prosperity for all.
The lead sociopaths in America today include one Paul Ryan, the ultimately conflicted conservative Christian who also claims to worship Ayn Rand as well. His anger and contradictory beliefs are evident in everything the man does. Every budget the man conceives is based on cuts to social programs. He can’t seem to imagine any other form of governance.
Dog whistle racism
There is also a dog-whistle racist tone to the meme that poor black people are the foundation of all of America’s problems. Those statistics we reviewed about welfare show a different picture, with just as many whites on social aid as blacks. And those nasty immigrant Mexicans that sociopathic Americans love to hate? Well only half as many use welfare as both blacks and whites.
The only way to stop being a sociopath is to stop relying on what you’re told about the source of America’s problems and get a real grip on what’s happening in the economy. America is being raped by corporatization of its laws, its rights and its morality. That is not to say corporations are bad, or that free market capitalism is bad either. But when those economic tools are used to exploit people, resources and society, then they deserve to be held accountable.
One can only stop being a sociopath by moving beyond this dynamic that gives the appearance of prosperity while impoverishing so many. A certain Jesus Christ warned against the tendency to worship the pursuit and gain of money as a sign of moral insight. Perhaps he recognized that sociopathy finds both a purpose and an expression in economic inequality. And he was right.
So stop being a sociopath. Feed the poor and hungry. Help the disadvantaged. Defend the meek. Love your enemy. And love your neighbor as your self.
That’s what’s really golden.