Incrementally, but noticeably, the United States is shedding its democracy. Hard-won civil liberties are willingly sacrificed for the sake of illusory added security. Institutions are stacked with political, partisan appointees who do their puppetmaster’s bidding. Laws are openly broken and the Constitution flaunted with breathtaking callousness and an ease that would have been considered unthinkable on September 10, 2001. I wouldn’t be surprised if the forthcoming presidential elections are suspended due to this perpetual “state of emergency”.
Largely ignorant of history and thus devoid of any meaningful or helpful perspective, people shrug off this doomsday scenario. They forget that Rome – a four hundred years old republic with venerable institutions like the Roman Senate – gave in to tyranny in the space of four years. The same goes for ancient Athens, the first truly participatory democracy on earth, transformed by wars into a hideous dictatorship.
America’s is a malignantly narcissistic culture. Its denizens believe counterfactually that it is the richest, most virtuous, freest, society on earth. Reasonably, they are convinced that everyone is destructively envious of them. This renders them paranoid and violent. An early and observant traveler, Alexis de Tocqueville, noted this siege mentality and warned that the United States is walking a thin line between freedom and authoritarianism.
It is this ingrained belief that the world is hostile and harsh that will likely undo the American experiment. Psychology teaches us about projective identification – a defense mechanism that forces people around you to behave the way you are accustomed and expect them to. Treating everyone as a potential enemy usually turns them into ones.