Anthropological Notes On 21st Century History (“We Provide You The Best Technology For Competing, Fighting, Winning, Consuming and Enjoying Your Community Around The Super-stars”)

To define the forms of youth-abuse and neglect in totalitarian political systems is much easier than in formal democracies not only because in formally democratic societies humanistic sciences are developed enough to accumulate layers of knowledge about how totalitarian systems treat their youth but because life and political process under totalitarianism is much simpler. Besides, recent totalitarian trends in democratic societies together with reductions in financing of humanistically scientific research, are not helping to develop knowledge and understanding of the problems in the life of the youth in US and Europe in the 21st century.

Typical for traditionalist societies (that tend to have proto-totalitarian features) example of youth-abuse is the presence of despotic ideologies (demanding complete obedience to its dogmas). The demand to embrace the ruling ideology as a belief system – without a trace of critical reasoning, is not only abusive: it’s psychologically destructive for the potential of the young minds and souls for thinking about life independently and rationally. Totalitarian ideologies intolerant of autonomous opinions (like Communism in Soviet Russia or Racial superiority in Nazi Germany) have at least three features that allow them to effectively manipulate the psyche of the young people because without acquaintance with humanistic sciences they don’t have a chance to resist the immediate pleasures that ideological and political propaganda is so well equipped to stimulate in the young by flattering their narcissism.

The first feature of totalitarian ideologies (which are a kind of soft-wares for stimulating human pleasure through propaganda) is the appeal to the instinctive megalomania of the undeveloped minds (without humanistic education people don’t have cognitive humility – understanding that without a lot of studying you cannot grasp life, that just to experience it is not enough). It is an ideological suggestion that young people (“of our greatest country ever”) are superior – better, smarter, stronger, than youth in other countries and other political systems. How can a young person without much education not to be fragile to such a magnificent flattery? By hearing this irresistible nonsense the young person is ready to… die to prove that s/he is, indeed, ahead of his/her peers from other countries. This kind of bragging euphoria among the young is exactly what propagandists need to make them do what the deciders want.

The second feature of totalitarian ideology is to suggest that “our” young people are the natural vanguard in the world, that they are uniquely equipped to lead the world “straight ahead” – to become like “us”, the most beautiful, most wise and sophisticated people on earth, the only ones holding the key to the planetary future. The youth are named via masterful propaganda – the natural bosses of the world! In gratitude for this grand assignment young people will do anything and everything – murder, sacrifice themselves and idealize/worship the “deciders” who made them the best in the world.

The third feature that flatters the propagandized (in order to make them grateful, self-sacrificial and fierce) is the logical development of the first two. It suggests that “our youth” has the absolute right to punish those who resist recognizing “us” as the superior minds and souls, who stubbornly assert their autonomy from us and claim their independent value and pride of being themselves! For this position of autonomy from our superiority on part of other nations our propaganda creates the green light for our youth for domestic and international scapegoating – it teaches the young to see in dissimilar others the enemy and scapegoat them for being the reason for our problems and difficulties. In this last feature we can discern the contours of paranoid-schizoid position toward otherness when our problems are not assessed as ours but attributed to some other people who are not like us and “hate” us.

The point is that youth-abuse and neglect in formal democracies while more multifaceted and often not apparent, follows the same psychological mechanism used by traditional totalitarian societies with such “admirable naturalness”. The complication point is that in US, for example, the propaganda approach of the government following the dictates of the wealthiest top two percent of the population is different for the conservative youth and the liberal youth. The conservative youth can be easily lured into the military, or used as private contractors for Para-military purposes, or instigated to become gun enthusiasts, sport fans, or hate-speech addicts. But the real problem for the decision makers in formal democracies is how to handle the youth with a liberal sensibility. The youth with conservative sensibility are addressed by emphasizing the nobility of the prowess of army service and virtue of “noble fight with the enemy” with gym-machoistic overtones, of “sacred hate” for vermin-enemies, for the “enemy-lovers” and the weaklings inside “our country”. But the youth with liberal sensibility are addressed through pop-music (by psychological “jerking” on the stage with giant guitars) and through Hollywood and TV entertainment (appealing to our narcissism as the mother’s breasts to baby’s mouth). The task here is how to distract the youths from intellectual/rational reactions on the facts of their life, how to fixate them on feverish (while being frozen) rituals of hate/war, greed/consumption, on Hollywood gimmicks and tricks and on pop-singing’s private and at the same time socialized sentimentality. Pop-singing in 21st century is escapism from life, reality and truth (that is never flattering, always demanding from us the ability to discard immediate pleasure of symbiotic fusion with the star and the crowd).

The both formally democratic ideologies – conservative and liberal, flatter young people’s narcissistic utopia of emotional plenitude, both promise the same things in different forms – imaginary (on the level of euphoric self-feeling) “as if” upgrading the hierarchical status of the youth within the society. For those who join the military service or privatized militaries, the propagandist flattery works identically with how it’s done in totalitarian countries. The conservative youth’s hierarchical status as if becoming higher because ideology finds those who are lower than them in social status – enemies who must be subdued, broken, conquered and eliminated. But with the youth with liberal sensibility to identify with Hollywood or athletic super-star is even more imaginary way to feeling themselves great and “on top”. In both cases, the intellectually critical energy of young people is flattened, reduced, trivialized and neutralized.

To create (ideologically or mass-culturally) imaginary-based environment is the basic strategy of ideological abuse of the youth. Ideological approach to youth is as old as humankind but it’s in modern societies which develops technical/applied cognition (based on psychological fragments), the absence of an equivalent development of humanistic intellect based on psychological wholeness becomes already not only a historical but an anthropological problem. It is in atmosphere of the underdevelopment of a holistic mind, that ideological abuse of human beings’ existentially intellectual potential becomes highly, high-tech-effective and super-efficient. The growing barbarization of the human intellectual potential is happening because of the retreating of humanistic education from public life (because of cutting funds decided by those who “smell” with their instinct of predators that humans carrying in their hearts flattering ideological beliefs and only technical professional knowledge are the easiest to rule over).