Aggression and sexual repression in America

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The culture of violence:

It’s raining outside. Five kilometers away on the other side of the river, it’s raining in America, too. Whatever’s happening over there always comes up this way, and it’s been like that since I can remember. It’s as if we’re the moon, and they’re the earth, the shadow always looming over us.



What is it like living next to that? Sometimes it’s so familiar it’s hard to see ourselves under the American shadow. But even though we can’t see ourselves, we can see America, probably better than any other nation apart from Mexico. So what is America?

The most striking realization is that America is one of the most violence-obsessed nations on the planet. This is not just a casual assumption; it is simply a fact. The U.S. has the eleventh highest handgun murder rate in the world. It produces and exports the bulk of the world’s most violent movies. It produces the world’s most lethal, technologically advanced and reliable weapons, in the greatest quantities. These weapons are sold within the U.S. to gun collectors, criminals, para-military survivalists and the general population. These weapons are also exported to every nation on earth, to the same polyglot of customers, including military dictatorships, drug lords and terrorists. America has also constructed the greatest military structure of potential violence in history. The U.S. consumes 50 percent of the world’s annual military expenditures. And 50 percent of the national budget is directed to the American military industrial complex. U.S. militarism has resulted in non-stop American wars since the end of the Second World War, from Korea to Vietnam to Central America to the Middle East, including the two concurrent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the self-declared global cop, the U.S, operates 600 military bases worldwide as well as the world’s largest and most advanced navy and air force. While figures are difficult to determine, fatalities inflicted by the American military could be conservatively estimated at over 4 million people since 1945, including 3 million in Vietnam alone.

Then there’s the matter of deposing regimes and interfering with the affairs of other so-called “rogue” nations. The U.S, government has been responsible for the establishment and subsequent overthrow of the Shaw of Iran, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the government in Chile, Manuel Noriega in Panama to name a few, that demonstrate the U.S.’s inclination to overthrow U.S.-resistant regimes.

In its scope and breadth, America can only be regarded as one of the three most violent and militaristic nations in history, the other two being Rome and Great Britain. Rome and Britain built empires. At first glance, America doesn’t appear to be in the empire-building business. But it is in business all the same. The American global agenda is the advancement of capitalist ideology and American corporate interests—reinforced by the real threat of military violence.

Added to the threat of overt force is the actual practice of economic violence through U.S. trade and financial instruments such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. These organizations intimidate, promote and extend U.S. capitalism in failing states to ensure adherence to financially crippling policies such as requiring the pay-down of national debt before feeding citizens, adding to corporately financed, state-wide corruption, exploitation of local workers, hijacking of regional resources for multi-national corporations—all at the expense of the citizens of the those countries.

American violence is not restricted to domestic violence and warring on foreign soil. America is also at war with itself in a new class war that has not yet erupted into mass civil disobedience and violence. This is a class war of attrition waged on the poor, the blacks and Native Americans using the levers of jurisprudence and harsh punishment. The proof is living in American jails.

With only 5% of the world’s population, the United States locks up 25%—one quarter—of the world’s convicts. Even with the largest incarcerated population per capita, it is still building more prisons. America is now the most self-punishing nation on the planet, or perhaps to have ever existed.

America has been privatizing the financing, construction and operation of prisons, and has built over 260 of these new private facilities over the past two decades, with more in the planning stages. And the American appetite for increased convictions and extending the terms of sentences shows every sign of escalating. In addition to the incalculable social costs, the economic cost to American society is enormous.

For example, the cost of annual drug enforcement alone is $7.7 billion dollars. Most of this anti-drug activity is aimed at marijuana trafficking and possession, which puts at least 50 million Americans who regularly smoke a joint at risk of prosecution and long term jail sentences. Much like alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, the soft drug prohibition is a windfall for the law enforcement and newly privatized corrections industry—much in the same way that ongoing foreign wars are a windfall for the armament industry and newly privatized military services providers. The violence industry is a growth sector.

The central factor fuelling the new class war is the over-supply of labour in the U.S. With the outsourcing of blue-collar manufacturing jobs to Asia and the Americas and the outsourcing of white-collar services, including medicine, to India, coupled with the dot.com and subprime mortgage-housing meltdowns, America now has an official unemployment rate of 9.5 percent and an unofficial unemployment approaching 20 percent of the American workforce. With this much of the population in crisis, it is no wonder that those who are gainfully employed, and in the professional services and administrative-managerial classes, especially those in power, might consider prison a safer place to store many of the unemployed rather than the streets, where the temptation to crime and violence (or the fear of it) is much greater. This over-supply of American labour also provides a ready and willing source of labour for the U.S. military and its private sector contractors.

Strangely, while America seems to have a high tolerance threshold for violence, it has a very low threshold for tolerating sex, even though violence is often accompanied by releasing sexual tension. This can be seen in the number of violent sexual crimes in the United States. Visible examples of the linkage of violence and sex include the Manson murders and the Weather Underground’s group orgies before confrontational meetings and bombings in the late 1960s and more recently in David Koresh’s sexual-military cultist enclave in Texas.


Sex aversion in America:

The most terrifying topic in America today is sex.

While America movie-making revels in violence, it actively shuns sexuality. Not only is sex repressed in the media it is actively expunged from the cultural discourse. There is no quicker way to shut down an art gallery in the U.S. than to exhibit artwork dealing with sexuality.

The symptoms of sexual repression were clearly evident in the California police witch-hunts for alleged family sex abuse and molestation of children in the 1980s, which resulted in the wrongful conviction of a number of parents, their decades long imprisonment and separation from their children, such is the fear of sex and sexual perversion—which is the outward manifestation of society-wide sexual repression.

The murder of homosexual boys is a regular occurrence in the United States. As are political sex scandals (the most damning scandals of all, which resulted in the impeachment proceedings of Bill Clinton). Fear of sexual display and homophobia go hand in hand in America.

Repressed sexuality is also deeply embedded into the religious culture of the U.S. American clergy, especially Roman Catholics. Priests and nuns are in the centre of a tidal wave of accusations of pedophilia and cover-ups by the Church. Evangelists, too, have been regularly outted in sex-related scandals including gay and straight affairs, and kinky commercial sex transactions.

The links between sex and violence in America are strong. Date rape, date rape drugs, gang rape, rape and murder, sexual abuse and murder of children, and domestic abuse—sometimes involving notable public figures and athletes—are a regular feature of the daily American news diet.

Current auto-erotic trends combine the threat of violence with the sex act, as with David Carradine’s death (and many others) by hanging while masturbating.

On the other side of the media channel, deep sexual innuendo fuels the commercial act. There has been a complete infusion of sex drive into commercial products by corporate interests. This can be seen in the conscious imbuing of sexuality into commercial objects: penises into lipstick, women’s bodies into the sheet metal of automobiles, and overt sexual imagery into advertising. Commercial sexualization is rampant in the US consumer economy—the transference of the sexual drive to the oral-consumptive drive.

The commercial tactic is to be alluring and suggestive rather than graphic and erotic. Innuendo trumps the actual act, with actual corporate goal to create ongoing insatiable desire without the possibility fulfillment—just its promise.

This hunger that can’t be satisfied, as promoted by American capitalism, is an oral fixation—without any possibility of gratification. This has led to transferring sexual hunger to oral hunger throughout the American market, which has led to the over-consumption of consumer goods—including food and an epidemic of obesity—the worst outcomes of which can be followed on bottom-feeding television reality shows such as “Hoarders.”

Because Americans are more afraid of sexuality than they are of violence, and the proof is plain to see in cultural expression, sex is an underground activity. Repressed sexuality—pornography—is a multi-billion dollar industry in America. The undercurrent of much of this pornography is violent fantasy, with men dominating women and children and even other men.

Even the violent act of swearing is sexual domination—the “fuck you” of treating women as the despised subordinate. But in the mainstream media, American movies and media are censored for sex but not for violence or indeed, violent language—including the opinionized news presented on the right wing media such as Fox “News.”


Underlying features:

The underlying ideological features of American society today are capitalistic. Puritanism, fundamentalism and free-ranging individualism have been welded to an unrestricted—and largely unregulated—business-driven culture. This is at heart a paternalistic culture. The corporation has replaced the father image in society, and his representative is now the CEO, and in terms of government, the chief CEO, the president. The president of the United States occupies the supreme father role, which has been best exemplified by the role played by Ronald Reagan, but to a lesser extent by JFK, Nixon, Johnson and Bush I and II. Presidents Ford and Carter were less successful, with Clinton being only marginally successful in the role.

This father-fixation, or usurping of the father figure, makes it difficult if not impossible to elect a female president, leaving Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin marginalized from the outset by their gender.

Barrack Obama faces impending failure as a father figure due to his perceived weakness, at least a the mid-point of his first term. He has been too accommodating on all sides, and therefore failing on all quarters.

The function of a father figure is authority, limitation and self-control. In a population with no controls and fuelled by the ever-feeding corporate consumer machine, a countervailing psychological control mechanism, in the form of a universal father, is required.

Thus, the American population in its entirety can be seen as the female recipient—both of the father’s love and discipline, and his corporate largess. This has only been made possible with the decline of American bourgeois patriarchal entrepreneurialism, and the rise of impenetrable, credentialized public and private sector bureaucracy that remains exclusive to all until there’s an invitation by the father to join—and submit.

The role of woman is central to the operation of violent American culture. The woman is necessary to the never-ending female consumption of goods and services—and commercial object of endless adoration. (“Her diamond cost only worth one month’s salary? Isn’t she worth more?”)

Apart from the high-level government offices and the corporate head offices where the masculine and paternal are dominant, woman have assumed the dominant position, as submissive recipient consumers, in American life. The customer is queen, not king. As the role of the American male has been exported offshore, and his earning ability at least matched my a good percentage of the female population, the displaced male, the real father figure has been moved to the sidelines, an object of derision and ridicule. Subsequently, within the American male population, there is a raging, subliminal desire to reestablish male power over the female—or a complete acquiescence of power, and the retirement of the American male altogether.

The culture of violence is propelled by this subconscious hatred of the power of the female, and yet the culture itself, especially artistically and commercially, is driven by female power. This is the Hillary Dilemma, that is, how to reconcile the father with the mother within authority structures. As it stands America needs the female to continue consuming to keep the economic engines going. Thus, the power of women.

On the other side of this equation is the romantic individualization of American culture, which sets up women as the ultimate objects of consumption. But in the act of creating the feminine object, the society itself is moved to objectivization—a violent masculinization—and industrialization applied to feminine desire.

The American conflict now resides between the ceaselessly hungry, never fulfilled female vagina, the id, and the punishing superego, the violent male penile response to giving in to the female’s constant insatiable demands.

This constant onslaught of the corporate manipulating of emotions for commercial ends (as in MasterCard’s some item, $349…her smile, priceless) has created a post-modern American culture of cynicism, detachment, isolation and dissatisfaction. In other words, the capitalistic paradigm has advanced the corruption of pure emotions and created a culture in which irony is the highest intellectual pinnacle.

Politically, this has resulted in the polarization of the female into the compassionate left, and the male into the authoritarian right.


Conclusion:

Symptomatically, dispossessed males—the unemployed, the droids without workplace satisfaction, autonomy or decision-making authority—are repressing their outrage at their own powerlessness. In response, they are consuming massive amounts of media violence and pornography to offset that rage—against both the control forces (governments and corporations) and the women who are the targets/markets/consumers of those control forces.

These dispossessed males are the sacrificial lambs filling America’s prisons. Corporations and governments are terrified by the prospect of these males waking up, hence the recent construction of the large, unoccupied and dormant FEMA emergency internment camps.

And these dispossessed males are the human resource fodder for the U.S. military and the application of American, corporate-driven violence abroad.

This view of American violence doesn’t take into account the economic class warfare taking place in the U.S. over the past four decades, which has facilitated the largest transfer of wealth in history from the lower classes to the top .5 of one percent of the American population. Nor does it address the declining American standard of living, in which infant mortality rates are rising to developing world levels, the cost of health care is crippling to the lowest 20 percent of the population, and the life expectancy of the average American is falling behind that of most western Europeans.

As to the divide between American women and men, divorce is at an all-time high, intimacy may be at an all-time low, and there are more openly gay and single-parent families, and more families in emotional and economic crisis than ever before. These are the symptoms of applying an uncompassionate capitalistic philosophy based on Darwinian natural selection and acceptable losses through sanctioned violence applied to an entire national culture in the grandest social experiment since Marxism.

Viewed from this short distance of five kilometers, America is psychically and psychologically out of control. One could diagnose a society in the grip of clinical insanity. Much as could be seen in Europe and especially Germany, Italy and Spain after the First World War, the logical prediction for America’s future would be waging a permanent and continuous war, both civil and international.

For America’s next door neighbours, this prospect is daunting, and the effects north and south of the U.S. border are bound to be profound, especially in light of America’s dwindling natural resources.

The rain hasn’t stopped, the sun has set and the wind is rising through the trees as we approach nightfall on this side of the river.

Comments

  1. Was this in the Courier,Gerald? If so, I'd imagine you'd have some interesting feedback.....:)
    Back in a couple of weeks; let's do coffee.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, for blog audience only. Can't imagine running this piece in the paper. Not only is it too long... but probably too close to home. Fear tends to create polite people. Trust the vacation is going well? Cheers. See you when you get back.

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  3. THANK YOU

    a fellow open minded individual, trapped in emotionally F*D america

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Ramz,

    It's pretty much emotionally the same across the Anglo world, but maybe a bit worse in the US. This topic is/was the big revelation for Freud, who first realized the connection between repressed thoughts and conscious behaviour. And a hundred years later that realization is still very profound... and the visible cultural results are still shocking.

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  5. this is extremely well written. I enjoyed reading your blog. You brought about a necessary dialogue about capitalism as it relates to sexuality and violence. Thanks!

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  6. I agree with the author. There is a direct relationship between sexual repression and violence.Because,as he mentions,women are the queen of the whole process,and men end up being the lambs.

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  7. Gerald,

    Such a well written article here. As a resident of the American deep south, what you mention is even more pronounced and evident where we live.

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  8. I agree with most of this post except one major major problem: the US isn't even close to the highest murder rate in the world. Last year we placed 92nd to the highest in the world. Honduras is in first place followed by El Salvador. Most of the countries with the highest murder rates are found in Central America and Africa. As for the content of your post, I definitely agree.

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  9. Very astute observations of your sociopathic neighbors to the south. Do you see a matriarchal instinct attempting to prevail such as is found in ant, bee or wasp colonies? If that instinct is natural, and males have risen to unnatural dominance roles, can that account for paranoid aggression and conflicting, even genocidal, behaviors?

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  10. Profound, profound stuff. Will scare the sh*t out of most people as they look truth in the eye.

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  11. Amazing article, and perfectly describes much of what I see on a day to day basis in the US. For much of my life I have searched for explanations (aside from my own observations) as to why this culture seemed to angry, selfish, and arrogant. I am 30 years old, and since I was a child have always thought American culture was in decay. You did not say decay, but this is my belief.

    All I can say is thank you.

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  12. I disagree with the last part. I think that a LACK of Darwinian natural selection, enabled by the welfare state, is causing our country to breed out of control idiots. Thus we are evolving backwards, leading to everything you mentioned in the article.

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    Replies
    1. I agree, people took 'the struggle for survival' as Darwin's main theme instead of adaptation to our 'natural environment'. Instead we manipulate our environment through control (violence) and sedation (consumerism) to survive. Nature's going to shake us off like a bad case of fleas :)

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  13. Nature will prevail.Time is on Natures side and if we choose to destroy everything and everybody Nature will rebound with or without people



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  14. Thank the fuck outta me ;) Seriously though much gratitude for putting these complex social trends into an easily digestable essay. It was very enlightenling, helped put the puzzling behaviors of my America into a much more coherent picture for me. It will be shared. With gratitude, Leanne

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank the fuck outta me ;) Seriously though much gratitude for putting these complex social trends into an easily digestable essay. It was very enlightenling, helped put the puzzling behaviors of my America into a much more coherent picture for me. It will be shared. With gratitude, Leanne

    ReplyDelete

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