June 9, 2014 By Jack Jodell.
According to the Encyclopedia of Psychology, a “delusion of grandeur is the fixed, false belief that one possesses superior qualities such as genius, fame, omnipotence, or wealth. It is most often a symptom of schizophrenia, but can also be a symptom found in psychotic or bipolar disorders, as well as dementia (such as Alzheimer’s).”
The more I think of it, the more I am becoming convinced that the United States has been operating under “delusions of grandeur” for much of its recorded history! In its earliest days, under the guise of practicing economic freedom, plantation owners (including many of our Founding Fathers) willfully engaged in the barbaric use of slavery, even as many of them were promoting the creation of a “free” and “democratic” nation, For their idea of free went only as far as the aristocracy was concerned. Working folks who were not property owners were to be excluded from participation in elections, but they could die in battle to defend them by joining the armed services, of course. But when it came to actually voting in an election, they were disqualified simply because they owned no real estate. Those in power in our very earliest days had a great distrust of, and paranoia of, the masses. They believed they were socially and culturally superior to the great many who lacked property, so they disenfranchised those people completely. So too was it for freed slaves and other minorities following the Civil War. Poll taxes and other ways were used to prevent those people from voting. Direct election of senators eas forbidden until 1913, and WOMEN weren’t even allowed to vote until the election of 1920! Now THOSE are certainly examples of arrogance and “delusions of grandeur”, don’t you agree?
Though it was Germany’s Otto von Bismarck who pioneered the modern welfare state way back in the 1870s, and while for many years far too many Americans have erroneously believed that the United States has always been at the forefront of progress in nearly all things social, economic, and even governmental, it took our country more than 60 years to implement its own Bismarck-style social welfare programs with the coming of the New Deal in 1933! Had Wall Street and various other banking and business tycoons not trashed our economy by putting us into the Great Depression in 1929, we might, even today, still be without such much-needed and valuable programs as Social Security, General Assistance, unemployment insurance, workman’s compensation, overtime pay, a minimum wage, and even Medicare and Medicaid, which were added in the 1960s and have kept literally millions of seniors and handicapped persons financially solvent! It is very important that we Americans know how we lagged far behind most of the rest of the world in creating this economic safety net for our citizens – to insist that it was otherwise is ludicrous and completely delusional.
For many years in the 19th century, and to a large degree again even today, American labor was completely shut out of what could easily have become, and SHOULD have become, an ECONOMIC democracy! Robber barons were free to create monopolies and trusts, and set their prices as they saw fit, often at a rate that was impossibly high for average working people to be able to afford. Yet the American worker was not at all free to pursue his own happiness and had no leverage or meaningful input at all on either the wages he made or the prices he was forced to pay. This was the norm until Franklin D. Roosevelt, together with a Congress LOADED with LIBERAL Democrats, legalized labor unions in this country and established other progressive legislation like the minimum wage. Once granted the power to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions, labor unions pushed for livable wages in ALL industries and basically created a very large and internationally enviable middle class.
For much too long, lots of the citizens of the United States have regarded themselves as somehow superior to the peoples of other countries. We have looked down on the “Krauts” of Germany; referred to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese condescendingly as “gooks” or “chinks” or “nips”‘; Arabs and Muslims as “ragheads”; Puerto Ricans as “spics”; Mexicans as “wetbacks”; and Italians as “wops”, to name but a few. We are so very quick to condemn or criticize these peoples, ignoring the fact that the hard work of each of these groups has led to tremendous economic benefit for this country!
The sad truth of the matter is that the rest of the world does not revolve around us, nor has every single important scientific invention been created here. We are NOT the be-all or end-all of the world; the world does NOT belong to us ; and rather than being superior to many other nations and peoples, we are actually inferior to many of them and need to get on the ball soon or be left in the dust!
Our ethnocentric arrogance and ignorance has led us to bully smaller nations around the world and our greed has led us to invade and occupy them. It has also caused us to carelessly meddle in their own affairs and has caused a great deal of fully justified and completely unneeded animosity toward us.
Regarding psychotic behavior, what could possibly be more psychotic than the recent Tea Party-infested Republican Party’s refusal to pass a jobs creation bill during our ridiculously slow recovery from the Great Recession of 2008, which their lapsed regulatory policies helped create? Or their insistence on slashing taxes for billionaires even further at a time they claim to want to reduce our deficit and debt? Or their attempt to impose an austerity budget at a time in which millions of workers remain unemployed or severely UNDERemployed? Or their insistence on continuing to give tax subsidies to wealthy multinational oil companies who are making record profits and do not need any further tax relief? Or their ridiculing of those who warn about the dangers of man-made climate change, even in the face of staggering scientific evidence that the phenomenon is real and is rapidly approaching the crisis stage? Talk about being out of touch with reality and out of touch with what the overwhelming 99% MAJORITY of this country REALLY needs and wants!
We have managed to build a very strong country over the past 200+ years, but we have NOT always been in the lead on everything. OUR way has NOT always been the best or the only way to go! It has been the diversity of a great number of immigrants which has tempered this country and turned it into the powerhouse it has become. We are not islands and cannot stand alone. We cannot justify the kind of paranoia being practiced by our National Security Agency, which has colluded with several major key industries to spy on our communications, and even our allies worldwide! Believing otherwise is completely irrational, and is yet another in a long line of our dangerous delusions of grandeur!