The Types of Psychological Self-aggrandizement and Predilection for Traditional (Conservative) World View

Observing various groups of peers (school kids cheering one another, soldiers of the same unit, parishioners of the same parish, garden workers, beer buddies, etc.) we can very quickly notice that they are prone to collectively laugh and usually are passionately loud at it. If you pay closer attention you will notice that they are not just having a good time – they are laughing at somebody within their own group or at some other groups (of school kids, soldiers, parishioners, workers, etc.) Also, if you happen to hear a story about some group experiences – partying, picnicking, traveling, bird-watching, sierra-club forest crossing, good times at the shooting range, etc., it will often include some funny sub-story about somebody included in described event who is characterized as strange, eccentric or peculiarly funny (who, for example, walks through the forest with a briefcase, etc.) People are really hunting after any opportunity to make fun of or pick at someone who seems ridiculous, awkward, absurd, and pathetic in comparison with their group standard of smartness, adequacy and normalcy.

People often need to feel themselves above others, in many cases unconsciously. And they give themselves to this feeling in all spontaneity of self-satisfied innocence. Laughing at others is a favorite sport of mass-Russians or pop-Americans and anyone who didn’t have much of an experience in studying human life (with love and respect for knowledge as a tool of trying to understand what you don’t). Laughing at other people is symptom of still the most benign level of alienation from the otherness of dissimilar others. The next, less benign level is the emotion of contemptuous animosity and even suspicious hate toward those who have come to personify otherness (in their opinions, worldviews or existential tastes).

It is not surprising that the less people are educated in liberal arts and humanistic sciences the more they are likely to feel “great” when they state (through cathartic laughter or through humorous story telling) their superiority over other people/groups. The classic/basic examples are, of course, stories about “bizarre” life styles or “queer” religious rituals of people of other countries and nations. Humanistically un/under-educated people are their group/nation/race-centered. They personify for themselves normative humanity. Their values, norms and habits provide for them the system of coordinates for understanding what it means to be human – this posture helps them not to feel lost between earth, sky, and wind. Today, in US this traditional (conservative) feeling of organic, axiomatic superiority over people marked by otherness, goes hand in hand with (mass-cultural) entertainment when soap-operas are simultaneously “Bill-Cosbying” otherness (taming it) and providing the audience with the opportunity to laugh at the remnants of otherness.

“Simple” people’s tendency to feel superior to other groups could continue to be expressed with a relative moderation if not a dramatic polarization of Americans in the 21st century instigated by the right-wing attack on human rights and democratic prosperity. The richest two percent of the population through financing the propaganda of righteous hate utilize the masses’ lack of education by putting them against their interests and against the more educated segments of the population the rich consider their “liberal enemies”. The psychological energy of pop-hate and the desire to dismantle democracy (that is oriented on informed rationality in addressing human problems) which the rich stir in the uneducated layers of the population, come from this “ancient” reservoir of the need to feel superiority over others (in order to feel more confident in life).

Although for several post-WW2 decades democratic politicians cared about people’s material needs, in a commercially oriented political system there is never enough money for a mass democratic education. American Christian fundamentalists – people who need psychological protection by an over-powerful Creator, and authoritarian conservatives who need authoritarian methods of keeping social power – have always felt that democratic establishment doesn’t represent their interests. Rich occupied with their material interests meet the poor worried about their social value, and this alliance has proven to be mighty enough to change the American democratic orientation on rationality and interests of the majority. Similarly archaic psychological complexes of the rich minority and the poor majority equally boiling with irrational fears and addiction to psychological defenses (of idolizing God, Power and Money) – makes this alliance strong as a throne. The popularity of Bush Junior and the growing popularity of Rick Bachmann and Sara Perry explains that poor are so grateful when the rich talk like them that they are happily ready to sacrifice their lives only to follow their leaders’ orders and expectations.

Is the American Middle class (and the intellectually gifted among the poor) ready to meet the rich minority-poor majority political alliance – with non-violent fight for American democracy? Only humanistic education can train the psyche in humility in front of other people. This fight is not with the external enemies but with human complexes, human psychotic fears and obsessions and superstitions and prejudices – which can destroy the world.